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Naval Academy, the Heart of Türkiye’s Maritime Heritage, Celebrating its 250th Anniversary

The 250th anniversary of the Naval Academy was enthusiastically celebrated with a ceremony held at the Heybeliada Campus. Admiral Ercüment TATLIOĞLU, Commander of the Turkish Naval Forces, and Erhan AFYONCU, Rector of the National Defense University, along with active admirals, officers, former commanders of the Turkish Naval Forces and retired officers who are alumni of the academy, arrived at TCG F-511HEYBELIADA by ferry to attend the ceremony.

Date: Issue 127 - December 2023 Update: June 13, 2024

The special ferry, accompanied by helicopters and surface elements of the Turkish Naval Forces Command, was greeted by TCG ANADOLU personnel off HEYBELIADA with the traditional sailor's salute known as “çımariva.” Following their arrival at HEYBELIADA, the guests proceeded to the school campus, where they were welcomed by Rear Admiral Erhan AYDIN, Commander of Naval Training Command, Rear Admiral Ramazan ÖZOĞUL, Commander of the National Defense University Naval Academy, and other officials. Admiral TATLIOĞLU and the distinguished guests then gathered in the ceremony area, marking the beginning of the 250th-anniversary celebration of the Naval Academy. The ceremony, held under heavy rain, began with a ceremonial parade by the student regiment, followed by a group of retired officers, including those who were part of Admiral TATLIOĞLU's cohort.

After the ceremonial parade led by the retired officers of the “1981 Cohort,” which received enthusiastic applause from the guests, a naval ceremonial parade led by TCG İstanbul began, although it had not yet been officially received by the Turkish Naval Forces Command. This procession, known as “Nizam HEYBELIADA,” showcased a formation of 21 elements, including 3 frigates, 1 corvette, 1 amphibious landing ship, 1 tank landing ship, 1 assault boat, 1 patrol boat, 1 mine hunting vessel, 1 submarine, 1 coast guard corvette, 2 SAT boats, 2 attack boats, 4 coast guard boats, and 2 LCVPs, parading off HEYBELIADA. Meanwhile, Admiral TATLIOĞLU saluted the passing ships from the school campus.

The ceremony then continued at the Piri Reis Conference Hall. During his address, Admiral TATLIOĞLU expressed his delight in gathering with both active and retired personnel to commemorate the 250th anniversary of the Turkish Naval Academy. He highlighted the day's significance as a testament to the unity and solidarity of the Naval Forces, underscoring the Naval Academy's establishment in 1773 as one of the world's most esteemed and pioneering educational institutions in its field. TATLIOĞLU credited the institution for significantly shaping the current capabilities of the Naval Forces through the training of its officers. Additionally, he reaffirmed the Naval Forces' unwavering commitment to safeguard the country's rights and interests in both territorial and international waters, echoing the ethos of a “Deep-rooted past, strong future.” He emphasized that this dedication would persist with resolute determination, fortified by the unwavering support of the Naval Forces' personnel and the country's domestic and national defense industry. 

In his address, Admiral TATLIOĞLU highlighted the Black Sea's recent significance, not only in terms of security but also economically, owing to its natural gas resources. He underscored the Turkish Naval Forces Command's support for Türkiye's exploration activities in natural gas and oil, citing the Black Sea's shift into a new era amid the Russia-Ukraine conflict's geopolitical dynamics. Drawing attention to the Naval Forces Command's expertise in neutralizing reported mines dumped in the Black Sea, TATLIOĞLU emphasized, “We possess a robust mine-countermeasures fleet. We've successfully eliminated this mine threat and continue to do so, safeguarding both commercial and drilling vessels without incident in the Black Sea.” Stressing the importance of ensuring security in collaboration with the Black Sea's littoral countries under the regional ownership principle, he added, “As a potent naval force in the Black Sea, we work jointly with other littoral countries to uphold its security. Hence, we consistently advocate for adherence to the Montreux Convention's provisions.”

Admiral TATLIOĞLU provided insights into the Aegean situation, noting Greece's territorial expansion threefold since 1830. He outlined eight key issues between Türkiye and Greece, with seven directly linked to maritime affairs, and highlighted ongoing efforts for resolution: “Greece sporadically escalates tension, but we're committed to maintaining a positive atmosphere.” TATLIOĞLU stressed the significance of the Cyprus issue, noting, "During the Geneva talks, we proposed a two-state solution and showed our stance. Our aspiration for Cyprus remains centered on a two-state solution.” Drawing attention to the efforts by the Naval Forces Command, TATLIOĞLU stated that the number of irregular migrants in the Aegean Sea decreased by 98 percent as a result of the support they provided in the fight against irregular migration. Stating that they use UAVs very effectively as the Naval Forces Command, TATLIOĞLU said, "We provide a 24-hour uninterrupted tactical picture of the Aegean.” TATLIOĞLU mentioned the continuation of training, drills, and ongoing NATO missions. He emphasized their active involvement in rescue and evacuation efforts following the Kahramanmaraş earthquakes on February 6. Specifically, the TCG BAYRAKTAR and TCG SANCAKTAR ships operated as hospitals, while an additional 24 ships provided essential support for post-earthquake activities.

TATLIOĞLU highlighted Turkey's ongoing naval projects, notably the construction of its inaugural national frigates following the ADA Class MILGEM corvettes. He announced the imminent delivery of the Naval Supply Combat Support Ship TCG DERYA, scheduled for this December. TATLIOĞLU highlighted the Turkish Naval Forces Command's effective use of TB-2, ANKA, and AKSUNGUR unmanned aerial vehicles, stating, “We aim to receive TB-3 by the end of this year, and we will deploy TB-3 on TCG Anadolu.” TATLIOĞLU concluded his speech, affirming, “The Turkish Naval Forces have successfully carried out their missions in the Black Sea, the Aegean, the Mediterranean, and the surrounding seas, and will continue to do so. Our Naval Forces are and will always be present in our surrounding seas.” He then extended congratulations once again on the 250th anniversary of the establishment of the Naval Academy.

Erhan AFYONCU, Rector of the National Defence University, expressed his delight in commemorating the 250th anniversary of the Naval Academy, a cornerstone of Türkiye's educational heritage, coinciding with the Republic's centennial. AFYONCU highlighted that the Naval Academy will continue to add strength to the Turkish Navy.  Retired Colonel Kaya ÜNAL, the most senior graduate, delivered a speech on behalf of the alumni. The ceremony concluded with marching band performances and the traditional changing of the guard. Following a shared lunch with the cadets in the dining hall, Admiral TATLIOĞLU and the guests inaugurated the “Hall of Memories.”

Naval Academy Marks Historic Milestone: Largest Number of Students Graduating in Its 250-Year History with 466 in 2023

During the Naval Academy's 250th-anniversary graduation ceremony, Rear Admiral Ramazan ÖZOĞUL, Commander of the National Defense University Naval Academy, emphasized that 466 students graduated from the academy, marking the highest number in its history. ÖZOĞUL mentioned that the school currently has 1685 students, with an additional 96 students hailing from 13 different countries. This year, we've made remarkable progress in our scientific and academic studies. Notably, our two Mavi teams secured the top spot at the TEKNOFEST event, with our Armada team securing a commendable third place. Additionally, we achieved first place among 55 countries in the Jet Engine Design Competition hosted by the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics. The Naval Academy continues to be the primary provider of officers for our 250-year-old navy, drawing strength from its rich heritage. In the future, it will continue to serve with honor and pride, defending our beloved nation under its command.”

Rear Admiral Gökçen FIRAT, who was promoted to the rank of admiral as part of a decision by the Supreme Military Council, also celebrated the 250th anniversary of the Naval War College from which she graduated. Expressing her pride in being the first female officer to reach the rank of Admiral, FIRAT said, "I feel a responsibility to be a role model for our young female officers, students and young people in the process of choosing a career. We have many women officers in our naval forces who are doing important work. I believe we will have female admirals in the future.

Naval Academy's 250-Year History 

The initial stride in the endeavors of Cezayirli Gâzi Hasan Pasha, a renowned Turkish sailor, and a key figure in the Ottoman reform movements, to instigate a fundamental reform in the navy post the Çeşme Raid encountered by the Ottoman Navy on July 7, 1770, commenced with educational reforms. The opening of the Hendesehâne (Geometry Room) in the Tersâne-i Âmire in Kasımpaşa, Istanbul in 1773 to adapt to the rapid changes in the maritime field occurring globally, marking the first example of these breakthroughs. The opening of this new school marks a pioneering milestone in Turkish reform movements and serves as the foundation of the Naval Academy and High School. Seyyid Hasan Hodja, proficient in five languages, served as the school's inaugural teacher, educating a group of 50 individuals, which included ship captains and distinguished state figures, except for Tuesdays and Fridays. In addition to shipbuilding engineers, experts from France taught at the school. The first textbook, “Maarif fi Vech-i Tasnif-i Sefain-i Donanma” (Procedure on the Classification of Naval Ships), was published in 1782. Subsequently, the school was renamed Mühendishane-i Bahr-i Hümayun in 1784.

During this period, students in the navigation and shipbuilding departments continued their practical training at the shipyard. A fire damaged the building in Kasımpaşa in 1821, prompting the construction of a new school in the same area. From 1828 to 1838, the Mühendishâne-i Bahr-i Hümâyûn was temporarily relocated to the Naval Barracks in Heybeliada. In 1838, upon the completion of the building in Kasımpaşa, the school was relocated back to its former site and renamed Mekteb-i Bahriye-i Şahane. During the same year, a printing house was established within the school, producing the “Marmara Sea and Straits Map.” In accordance with a recently enacted law, the use of the honorific "Sir," customary within the Naval Forces, became mandatory for all students attending the school. From the reign of Sultan Abdülmecid II onwards, it is observed that the annual exams of the students studying at the Naval School were held in the presence of the Sultan, just like in other schools. The school, where 400 students were planned to be educated, was permanently relocated to the renovated Naval Barracks in Heybeliada in 1846. In 1852, during Sultan Abdülaziz's reign, the high school section opened, leading to an increased number of students. Noteworthy advancements in education and training were pursued, aligning the curriculum with the technological innovations of the time. Notably, seven princes, including three sons of Sultan Abdülaziz and one son of Sultan Abdülhamid II, received their education at this school. In 1875, the school adopted the company organizational system, a structure still in practice today. Subsequently, in 1887, the Boarding Merchant Captain School was founded, focusing on enhancing maritime commerce. Amidst the Balkan Wars, adjustments were made to the school's education system. Graduates underwent a four-year program at the Naval School, followed by one year as Sea Cadets aboard the school ship, then three years training as Engineers in the Navy, before officially assuming their roles as First Lieutenants. During World War I, Cemal Pasha kept a close watch on the school, where Yahya Kemal, Hamdullah Suphi, and Ali Sami Yen served as teachers. Despite British pressures during the War of Independence years, education continued uninterrupted. In 1920, Engineer Tafdil Zek, one of the students who clandestinely escaped to Anatolia, took part as a team commander in the First Battle of İnönü and was honored with the Independence Medal.

With the proclamation of the Republic on October 29, 1923, various changes unfolded within institutions across Türkiye, including significant transformations within the Mekteb-i Bahriye. On May 27, 1928, the Heybeliada Naval School was renamed the Naval High School, adopting the curriculum of military high schools. Consequently, this amalgamated the Naval High School and the Naval Academy under the unified governance of the Directorate of Naval Academy and High School. Under the leadership of School Commander Colonel Ertuğrul ERTUĞRUL in 1936, November 18 was established as the celebrated anniversary of the school's establishment. Discussions about relocating military schools to safer areas arose in 1939 due to the outbreak of World War II. The Naval High School and the Naval Academy were relocated to the Infantry Barracks in Mersin on May 23, 1941, where they continued their educational and training activities throughout the war until they returned to Heybeliada on September 9, 1946. A significant milestone occurred between 1955 and 1960 with the admission of female students, leading to Gürışık Gürpınar becoming the first female officer to graduate from the Naval Academy in 1957. Another pivotal moment was in 1967 when the Naval Academy began providing education to students from allied countries. By the 1974-1975 academic year, the education duration expanded to four years, focusing on disciplines such as Electrical-Electronics, Mechanical Engineering, Operational Research, Management, Control Systems, Shipbuilding, Oceanography, and International Relations, with the inaugural graduates in 1977-1978.

In the 1980s, challenges such as the inadequacy of facilities at Heybeliada to meet evolving educational needs and transportation difficulties led to the relocation of the Naval Academy Command. On August 31, 1985, it moved to its new 800-acre campus in Tuzla. Subsequently, on January 18, 1990, the Naval Academy revised the general principles governing its Undergraduate Education Program. This revision involved a comprehensive review of programs at Boğaziçi, ITU, and METU, which were subsequently implemented in the 1991-1992 academic year. Commencing from the 1992-1993 academic year, the Naval Academy began admitting female students who were graduates of civilian high schools. Since 1997, graduates have been conferred a distinct “bachelor’s degree,” aligning with the engineering titles and authorizations they acquired alongside their education, in addition to the “Officer's Diploma.” As part of the restructuring of the military education system, the National Defense University (MSÜ) was established on November 9, 2016, consolidating all war schools within its framework. Currently, Naval Academy education spans five years, comprising one year of preparatory training and four years of undergraduate education. Naval Academy students commence their preparatory class education at the Kuleli School of Foreign Languages campus, proceed to their first year at the Heybeliada campus, and continue their studies at the Tuzla campus for the remainder of their education.

The Naval Academy boasts a distinguished list of graduates and members, including notable names such as Fahri S. KORUTÜRK, Rauf ORBAY, Bülend ULUSU, Necip Fazıl KISAKÜREK, Nazım Hikmet RAN, Durul GENCE, and Erkut TAÇKIN. Functioning as the cradle for Turkish Naval Officers, it nurtures individuals with outstanding academic qualifications and instills commendable values. These officers are dedicated to safeguarding our maritime rights and interests, demonstrating success and pride in their endeavors. They wholeheartedly embrace the principles of ATATÜRK nationalism and advocate for a democratic, secular, and socially just state. Additionally, they deeply internalize our national, spiritual, cultural, and historical values.

National Defence University Naval Academy

The National Defence University Naval Academy has been the principal source of officers for the Turkish Navy for 250 years. At the ceremony held on August 31, 2023, 466 lieutenants, including 10 women and 12 foreign guest personnel, graduated. These accomplished graduates are poised to undertake significant roles in defending the Blue Homeland. Simultaneously, 318 young sailors completed their orientation training and officially became part of the Naval Forces and the National Defence University family. Given the demand for skilled personnel in utilizing advanced warfare technology and equipment, Naval Academy students graduate with qualifications as naval officers and receive a bachelor's degree accredited by the Higher Education Council (YÖK). The Naval Academy's educational program accommodates 1685 students, comprising 96 visiting students from 13 friendly and allied nations. Presently, there are 318 prep-class students at Kuleli, 363 first-year students at Heybeliada, and 1004 second, third, and fourth-year students at Tuzla. The curriculum encompasses undergraduate studies in engineering disciplines, combining theoretical learning with practical training to impart Naval Officer qualifications.

The teaching staff comprises 129 academics, consisting of two Professors, five Associate Professors, 14 Faculty Members, 78 Lecturers, and 29 Research Assistants. Among them, 68 are officers, and 61 are civilians. In 2023, the staff participated in three TÜBİTAK projects and were stakeholders in six TÜBİTAK projects and one TENMAK project from other universities. Additionally, as part of the collaboration between the Naval Academy and the National Submarine (MiLDEN) Project Office, five faculty members actively contributed to national submarine conceptual design studies. As per the academic curriculum, Naval Academy students undergo rigorous applied maritime training alongside their engineering education for a comprehensive 5-year program, including a preparatory year focused on English proficiency. The MSU Naval Academy offers undergraduate education in five engineering disciplines: Computer Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and Mechanical Engineering. Alongside this academic program, it provides comprehensive theoretical and practical military training, ensuring that graduates possess the necessary qualifications as naval officers and seamen aligned with the Turkish Naval Forces Command's requirements. At the Naval Academy, teaching activities take place in 55 traditional classrooms, four lecture halls, five computer-assisted U-type language laboratories, five cabin-type language laboratories equipped with computers, four dedicated computer labs, 27 specialized laboratories, a Planetarium, a Ship's Bridge Simulator, a GMDSS Simulator, and a Radar and ECDIS Simulator.

Students stay in modern rooms, each designed for five occupants and furnished with individual desks, libraries, beds, and wardrobes. Every class has its designated student lounge for social gatherings and recreational activities. Students can join various social clubs based on their interests including chess, cinema, theater, music, naval history, ship modeling, ship technologies, mechatronics and robotics, and cybersecurity. Throughout the academic year, training on training boats and sailing vessels is conducted. This practical approach aims to apply the theoretical knowledge acquired during classes, familiarize students with maritime life, and prepare them for their future duties. Towards the end of the academic year, the curriculum includes Advanced Maritime Training and Open Sea Training. These sessions reinforce theoretical subjects covered during the year and acquaint students with both domestic and foreign ports. Additionally, the training program encompasses Fire and Damage Control as well as First Aid Training, where students put their theoretical knowledge into practice using simulators.

The Naval Academy students excelled in various competitions throughout 2023. They showcased remarkable achievements in the Jet Engine Design category at both TEKNOFEST 2023 and the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics (AAIA) 2023 Jet Engine Design Competition. Additionally, they demonstrated prowess in competitions organized by sailing and rowing federations. In 2023, the Naval Academy participated in 13 yacht races, each with a minimum of four yachts, securing 7 first places, 4 second places, 4 third places, and 3 fourth places. Additionally, the academy excelled in rowing, achieving 1 second place, 7 third places, and 5 fourth places in 5 races, both individually and as a team. Alongside its competitive achievements, the Underwater Training Center Command at the Naval Academy conducts the Frogman Basic Course, with an average of 20 students successfully completing the course each year, earning the prestigious Frogman Badge. The Naval Academy's education programs offer high-quality training in maritime and engineering fields, preparing students to become proficient officers for the Turkish Navy. The curriculum supports their academic and physical development while encouraging participation in social activities. To enrich students' knowledge and experience, the academy regularly hosts conferences and cultural activities, maintaining high morale and motivation among its students