The Turkish Maritime Seminar was held by Ship's Captain and Businessman Shipowner Vehbi KOÇ on October 20, 2021 at the Ayşe Saime Murtezaoğlu Conference Hall of Sürmene Faculty of Marine Sciences. In the event, which was held under pandemic conditions, with the utmost attention to mask/distance and hygiene rules, important issues were discussed under the titles of "Turkish Maritime", "Bosphorus" and "Canal Istanbul".
In his speech at the seminar, Vehbi Koç said that maritime trade was carried out under state control from the 1930s to the 1980s, and that there were 2 civilian and 3 military shipyards, “In the 1980s, it had a carrying capacity of 1,5 million. The steps taken to protect our country until that day were very valuable. Free trade became widespread in the 80s. From 5-6 shipyards, today the figures have reached about 90's. The carrying capacity of 1,5 million has reached 33,5 million with today's current figures. It's been thirty times in 40 years. This year, we will close our export capacity with figures of around 220-230 billion dollars. However, he sees the figures of 300 next year. Countries that have reached an export capacity of 250 billion dollars or more are already class-raising. Turkey is approaching the bright future step by step. Great Turkey is about to cross the bridge at the point of becoming a regional and global power”.
Claiming that Turkey has turned the worldwide crisis into an opportunity due to the Kovid-19 outbreak, Koç said, “Our geopolitical position has been seriously affected by the pandemic. We can reach half of the world's population by air, land and sea within a 3-hour flight distance and a 15-day cruise distance. While many airline companies in the world went bankrupt, Turkish Airlines (THY) made significant profits by continuing to use its planes for cargo transportation during the pandemic process. We have become one of the leading countries in land, air and sea transportation. Maritime is very important for a country. He who knows sailing knows everything. He who dominates the seas dominates all places. Increases your horizons 2-3 times. You are encouraged.” said.
Referring to Kanal Istanbul in the continuation of his speech and talking about the future achievements of the project, Koç said, “When the Treaty of Lausanne was signed, there was only the Assembly, the Republic was not proclaimed. Lausanne was signed on July 24, 1923, and the Republic was proclaimed on October 29, 1923. Maritime trade in the world should be uninterrupted. The Dardanelles and Istanbul Straits are places with free transit status. The ship hoists the flag of the country it has passed and passes freely. In 2005 the ministry took a decision considering that the straits were in serious danger. It reduced the Bosphorus traffic from both directions to one direction. It worked in terms of reducing and preventing accidents. But you have slowed down the traffic by fifty percent. The number of ships increased, the traffic increased. Afterwards, large tankers were not allowed to pass at night. It was obligatory to have escorts for 200-meter ships,” he said.
Noting that with the increase in Istanbul's urban traffic, the orientation towards maritime transportation has also increased, Koç said, “The two sides are now united in maritime transportation. Many ferry and ferry lines were established. There is a traffic that is used by the people of Istanbul across the street. There is also the use of fisheries, tourism and sports from north to south. What does the Istanbulite say first? 'The throat is mine first. This is not something like the Panama Canal or the Suez Canal. I use this strait as I use the land. No one can tell me that you will not use the throat.' Although international rules do not prevent free passage, no shipowner wants to put his owner ship in that strait turmoil. He wants to pass as soon as possible without any accident. What he is looking for is the canal used only for navigation, such as the Panama and Suez canals he prefers. When the ship waits, the trader writes a loss. No trader wants to pass through this turmoil while crossing from Marmara to the Black Sea. Because in the slightest mistake, the rudder was stuck, one of the radars did not work, wts sees. The trailer comes, you call a man from the port, you get in line again. The freight you take is going. It is important to deliver the goods as soon as possible in maritime trade. You will deliver and look at the next freight. Nobody wants to spend money on the road. Hours are calculated here," he said.
Saying, “There is only need for a ship to pass from Marmara to the Black Sea,” Koç continued as follows: “If you have the time and time, and if you take the risk and the danger, you can pass through the Bosphorus. Think about it, the ship was caught in the current, a ship of 100 people is coming from the opposite direction. There was a collision. What will happen? Are they waiting for this? The state mind sees the risk and takes action. If you think that the Bosphorus is blocked for 2-3 days, the bill will be 30 billion dollars and we will all pay for it with increasing prices wherever we shop. Those who do not know the form and scheme of trade are having ideological conversations. However, there are professionals. You call, you talk. If you don't know this, you shouldn't talk. I'm a trader. I need to cross the ship in the safest way possible. How will I do? The state has to do this. World trade needs to be paved and it needs to get rid of this huge risk it faces. When the state resets this risk, the straits cease to be a matter of discussion. Such is the state of mind. The Republic of Turkey is doing the right thing.”
Stating that they are faced with risks called 'near miss' every day from the Bosphorus, Koç said, “In the accident that took place in the past days, the fishing boat crashed. Our 2 fisherman brothers passed away. Can you imagine this hitting a passenger engine? The big ship has no maneuverability. It has been a topic in the past. It could not be done due to financial reasons. Naturally, 75 percent of this is already ready and the length of Kanal Istanbul is 45 km. The Suez Canal and the Panama Canal were man-made. It is not a free waterway. The Dardanelles and the Bosphorus are free waterways. If you are a big state, you make its alternative. 20 million Istanbulites need the Bosphorus. The Bosphorus belongs to the people of Istanbul," he said.
While Koç talked about his professional experiences, he also gave information about the subjects they need to work on and learn. Answering the questions from the students at the end of the program, Koç ended the program after approximately 2,5 hours.
At the end of the program, KTU Sürmene Faculty of Marine Sciences Dean Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Feyzioğlu presented flowers and thanked him for his speech.
Vehbi Koç, on the other hand, expressed his satisfaction for the realization of the program and promised six students in need, to be determined by the dean's office, as the Piri Reis Maritime Foundation, with scholarships every month.
Speaking at the seminar on “Turkish Maritime” held at Karadeniz Technical University (KTU) Sürmene Faculty of Marine Sciences Ayşe Saime Murtezaoğlu Conference Hall, Vehbi Koç talked about the historical development of maritime in Turkey and Kanal Istanbul. KTU Sürmene Faculty of Marine Sciences Dean Prof. Dr. Muzaffer Feyzioğlu, Head of KTU Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering Department Assoc. Dr. Betül Saraç, Head of the Department of Maritime Transportation and Management Engineering at KTU, Dr. Umut Yıldırım, Trabzon Metropolitan Municipality Council Member Hasan Cebi and the students of the Faculty of Marine Sciences attended.