Meet MARLIN: Turkey's New Naval Game-Changer

On January 19, 2024, a ceremony was held at the Turkish Sefine shipyard to commission four new ships into the Turkish Navy, including the frigate TCG Istanbul (F-515), the tanker TCG DERYA, and the logistics ship TCG Ütğm: Arif Ekmekçi and the surface unmanned ship MARLIN.

The importance of this event for the Turkish navy is emphasized by the fact that the military and political leadership of Turkey – President Recep Tayyip Erdogan, members of the Cabinet, the leadership of the country’s armed forces and defense enterprises – were present at the ceremony, writes the Naval News portal.

In this message, special attention should be paid to the Turkish MARLIN surface drone, as it is stated that this remote-controlled ship can even be used to conduct radio-electronic warfare against enemy ships and that such functionality was even tested in practice during NATO exercises as early as September 2022.

Until now, there have been no reports from open sources about other maritime drones that can be fitted with EW. Accordingly, the Turkish MARLIN can be considered the first in this class.

As detailed by the authors of the Naval News portal, the MARLIN marine drone was created in cooperation between the Aselsan and the Sefine shipbuilding companies. The characteristics of this unmanned boat are revealed only in some details: cruising speed – up to 12 knots, maximum speed – 36 knots, seaworthiness – in waves up to 4-5 points, hull size – as much as 15 meters (according to data from open sources, the length of the hull of our marine drones is 5 meters).

Meet MARLIN: Turkey's New Naval Game-Changer
The use of guided missile weapons from the Turkish marine drone MARLIN, illustrative photo, source – TAIS Shipyards

It is also stated that the Turkish marine drone MARLIN has modular equipment options; that is, EW equipment can be installed and short-range guided missiles or light torpedoes can be installed. At the same time, perhaps the most important parameters of the MARLIN marine drone – the range and control system of the unmanned ship and how the onboard equipment of this drone is used – are not disclosed.

The example with this Turkish MARLIN can “hint” to us that perhaps the line of our naval drones should also be expanded at the expense of multi-purpose options that can perform shock functions or carry appropriate equipment, even if it is necessary to increase the size of the case for this slightly.

This is all the more so because our maritime drones are already undergoing a certain expansion of functionality; here, we can recall data from open sources that SBU Sea Baby sea drones received RPV-16 jet flamethrowers for self-defense against raiders at sea.

Meet MARLIN: Turkey's New Naval Game-Changer