As the trilateral naval exercise Noble Dina 2017, with the participation of Greece, the US and Israel, came to a close Thursday afternoon with a ceremony at the Israeli Navy headquarters in Haifa, Greek military authorities were put on heightened alert after Turkey issued another navigational telex (navtex) saying that one of its research vessels will conduct “scientific exploration” on Friday and on Saturday in a region stretching north to south – from the eastern Aegean islands of Lesvos and Chios down to Icaria in the central Aegean.
Greece says that Turkey’s insistence on conducting seismic research in Greek waters is a way to dispute its continental shelf.
Meanwhile, tensions flared again over the Aegean as Greek and Turkish fighter jets engaged twice in mock dogfights west and south of Lesvos at 2.50 p.m. and 3 p.m. respectively, while a Turkish SH-70 Seahawk helicopter also violated Greek national air space.
Violations by Turkish jets have become almost a daily occurence in recent months, and have been accompanied by an escalation of incendiary rhetoric emanating from Ankara.
The renewed tension came after the two-week Noble Dina 2017, which was conducted over a large part of the Eastern Mediterranean stretching from the sea around the island of Crete to an area off the coast of Israel. Cyprus also took part as an observer.
The exercise involved almost a dozen surface ships, submarines and other air assets engaging in joint reconnaissance, counterterror and anti-submarine warfare training.