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The Nusret | by Rahman Ketenciler
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The Nusret

The Nusret is a replica of the 1915 Turkish minelayer of that name at the Çanakkale Strait Commandery Military Museum. Appropriately, the ship is displayed by the shore of the Narrows of the Dardanelles along with the types of mines that it was responsible for laying. In early 1915, as they awaited Allied attack, the Turks laid over 370 mines across in the straits in lines. Along with the guns of the various forts, ramparts and mobile batteries these mines formed the main defences of the Dardanelles against naval assault. To break out into the Sea of Marmara and get up to Constantinople, an Allied fleet first would have to deal with the mines and forts or face annihilation. On the night of 8 March 1915, the commander of the Nusret, Captain Hakki Bey, who only days previously had suffered a heart attack, took his ship out to Erenköy Bay, south of Kepez Point:

 

German observers had noted that the [British and French] battleships were accustomed to manoeuvre in this area during the earlier bombardments, and had inconsiderately arranged that the … Nusret should venture into waters that the fleet had lightheartedly come to regard as its own and stealthily drop its twenty ‘iron pots’ well in advance of the main Kepez minefield.

[John North, Gallipoli: The Fading Vision, London, 1936, p.303]

 

Not only did Hakki Bey lay his ‘pots’ (a later Turkish report stated that 26, not 20, mines were actually laid by the Nusret) but he laid them, not across the straits, but parallel to the shore. When, during the great naval attack of 18 March 1915, the warships tried to turn in Erenköy Bay before heading back out to sea, at least three of them hit these up to now unknown mines. Two ships – the Bouvet and the Irresistible – sank in the bay. The third ship, the Inflexible, was badly damaged and struggled out of the straits. A fourth warship, the Ocean, may also have hit one of these mines as it also sank in the bay. Not surprisingly, Hakki Bey and his crew were greatly honoured. Historian John North concluded that the British ‘oversight’, which led to the Nusret’s mines remaining undiscovered, ‘changed the course of history’ as after 18 March the naval efforts to pass the Dardanelles were abandoned and an army landing on Gallipoli planned instead.

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Taken on July 8, 2012