CHENNAI: Commander of the Turkish Navy frigate TCG Gediz, Yusuf Kocaman, may have steered his ship out of Chennai on Saturday morning towards the Maldivian capital Male but the pleasant memories of the city would remain evergreen in his memory making him to return at the earliest possible opportunity.
“Next time when I visit Chennai, I will drop anchor for a minimum of three days. Two days are not enough,” said Kocaman on board the TCG Gediz, which was acquired from the United States in 2000 and was known as USS John A Moore, the 11th ship of the Oliver Hazard Perry class of guided-missile frigates.
Kocaman, who called on Chennai Mayor Saidai Duraiswamy, was all praise for the city being peaceful. “Your city is peaceful and you have a wonderful Chief Minister. She is the lady instrumental in the development of the State,” said Kocaman, The commander also spoke in awe of the shore temple at Mahabalipuram which he managed to visit during the short stay. “It is an ancient temple and has beautiful sculptures. I also visited the St Thomas church. I was told that it is 2,000 years old. But to my surprise the building looks as though it has been built anew,” he said.
Talking about Gediz’s Chennai visit, he said Turkey is observing the 125th anniversary to retrace the Ottoman frigate Ertugrul’s historic voyage from Istanbul to Yokohama. Interestingly, Kocaman was expecting joint naval exercises with Indian Navy. “We wanted to have joint Navy exercises with INS Sumitra, the fourth and last Saryu class patrol vessel of the Indian Navy. Unfortunately it never happened. We only had two days of reception. Next time, we will plan to have at least three days of stay in Chennai port.” He also recalled his interaction with INS Sumitra crew in Djibouti.
“Chennai is the 15th port. We will be going to Male next and return to the Aksaz naval base in Turkey on July 31,” Kocaman said. “By then, we would have sailed 20,300 nautical miles which is equal to the perimeter of the world. We would also have visited 18 ports in 13 countries,” he added.