Long having a base at Souda Bay on Crete, the U.S. Navy hopes to have another, at the northern port city of Alexandroupoli, near Turkey’s border, an American military buildup drawing the ire of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.
Senior US military officials have proposed further deepening and expanding the port with a view to hosting and supplying US Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers that also have expanded electronic warfare capabilities.
The plan, said Kathimerini, could further upgrade the port which has been a reliable alternative to the Bosporus Strait, which Turkey closed to all warships four days after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.
Thousands of soldiers, tanks, helicopters, and other supplies for the US and other NATO forces have used it to get into Eastern Europe, unsettling Turkey, which, while a member of the defense alliance, has bought Russian-made S-400 missile systems and refused to go along with EU sanctions over the invasion.
A key to the plan is upgrading the port that had been underutilized for years and has been to ship weapons to personnel in the Balkans and Europe, the intention now to become a naval base.
Citing Greek media, the Turkish daily newspaper Hurriyet said the apparent goal is for American companies to win bids to improve the port where privatization has been delayed, and make it suitable for bigger warships.
The United States has been conferring with Greek officials on the scope, said Kathimerini after Greece’s New Democracy government in 2021 designated the Yanuli headquarters there, only 40 kilometers (24.85 miles) from Turkey’s border as a base for American forces.
The US and Greece had renewed a military cooperation agreement that would expand the American military presence and provide an alternative to Turkey, often troublesome, and where there are American forces on a base.
At Yanuli, facilities to accommodate up to 400 people are being built to house American troops who use the port to go to the Balkans and European countries and whose spending has bolstered the local economy.
Turkey is closely following the military mobilization of the U.S. troops in Alexandroupoli but it is not about an intense deployment, sources from the Defense Ministry said earlier, the Turkish paper reported.
While the port has been used mostly by travelers and service providers to the Aegean islands of Samothrace and Lemnos near Turkey, it’s also important to NATO’s eastern flank geographically.
The port would also give the US a key point to track more closely Russian warships that are active in the Eastern Mediterranean.
In August, The New York Times reported how the port has turned into a face-off between competing interests and countries, and businesses with ties to the US and Russia vying for control.
The port is going to be sold and bidders for a controlling stake, similar to the Chinese company COSCO running Greece’s biggest port of Piraeus adjacent to Athens, are four groups of companies – two from the US and two tied to Russia.
“What we have done is transform the port into a dynamic military operations hub,” said Andre Cameron, who oversees U.S. military logistics at the port. “Nothing like it has been done here before.”
Referring to what the war in Ukraine has wrought, Konstantinos Chatzikonstantinou, the Chief Executive of the Alexandroupoli Port Authority told the paper: “Every crisis creates opportunities.”
Read more at thenationalherald.com
RELATED TOPICS: Greece, Greek tourism news, Tourism in Greece, Greek islands, Hotels in Greece, Travel to Greece, Greek destinations, Greek travel market, Greek tourism statistics, Greek tourism report
Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons License: CC-BY-SA Copyright: Mpb eu
Original article: US Navy looks for second Greece base at Alexandroupoli port of Greece.