The Turkish Defense Ministry late on on Monday released a photograph showing its oil exploration vessel, the Oruc Reis, being escorted by five Turkish Navy vessels into its position in the sea, approximately midway between the island nation of Cyprus and Crete, atop Greece’s continental shelf.
The Defense Ministry said in a statement, issued at the same time to the world’s press, that “The Turkish Armed Forces have taken all necessary measures… to protect our rights and interests under international law in the maritime zones under our jurisdiction.”
The United States had protested against this latest incursion by Turkey into an area of the sea atop Greece’s territorial waters.
Earlier on Monday, the US State Department voiced its condemnation of Turkey’s most recent actions in the Eastern Mediterranean as it sent the Oruc Reis to probe for oil and gas just to the south of the Greek island chain of Kastellorizo.
“The United States is aware that Turkey has issued a notification to other ships of survey activity in the Eastern Mediterranean. We urge Turkish authorities to halt any such plans for operations and to and to avoid steps that raise tensions in the region,” a State Department spokesperson had said.
Later in the afternoon, it was reported in Greek media that the Oruc Reis had been stopped from conducting seismic tests after a number of Greek Navy vessels appeared in the area, with their noise interfering with the sound signals sent out by the Turkish vessel to such a great degree that the seismic tests were impossible to carry out.