Greek and Turkish warships engage in 'mini collision' in eastern Mediterranean

A Greek and Turkish warship got engaged in a mini-collision on August 12, 2020 during a standoff in the eastern Mediterranean. This was shared by a Greek Defence source who described the incident as an accident.

Tensions rose in the Eastern Mediterranean region after Turkey sent a survey vessel to the region, escorted by warships, to map out the sea territory for possible oil and gas drilling in an area that is claimed by both Greece and Turkey. 

The European Union foreign ministers are expected to discuss the matter today, on August 14, 2020. 

Key Highlights

Turkey recently deployed its survey ship - Orus Reis and two support vessels to undertake seismic research for energy resources in the eastern Mediterranean sea, in an area that is claimed by both Turkey and Greece. 

The Turkish Oruc Reis survey vessel has been moving between Cyprus and the Greek island of Crete, shadowed by a number of Greek frigates.

On August 12, one Greek frigate, the Limnos in its attempt to approach the survey vessel came in the direct path of one of survey ship’s naval escorts, the Kemal Reis. 

According to the defence source, the Greek frigate then maneuvered to avoid a head-on collision with the Turkish ship but in the process, its bow touched the rear of the Turkish frigate.

However, the source stated that it was an accident and that the Turkish ship was not damaged nor was the Greek frigate. 

The same Greek Frigate later took part in a joint military exercise with French ships off the Greek island of Crete Island on August 13.

Turkey’s reaction to mini-collision

Turkish President Tayyip Erdogan reacted to the incident on August 12 saying that any attack on a Turkish ship Oruc Reis exploring for oil and gas in disputed Mediterranean waters would incur a "high price" and suggested that Turkey had already acted on that warning.

Background

Turkey and Greece are allies under the NATO alliance but their relations have been strained for a long time. 
Disputes ranging from boundaries of offshore continental shelves and airspace to the ethnically split island of Cyprus have made their relations fraught with tension. 

The two nations almost went to war in 1996 over the ownership of uninhabited islets in the Aegean Sea.

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