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Turkey’s first seismic search vessel Oruç Reis’s operations were signed for almost $5 million to a close friend of former Prime Minister Binali Yıldırım from the ruling Justice and Development Party (AKP), daily BirGün reported on Sept. 17.

The lead vessel in Turkey’s activities in the Eastern Mediterranean, Oruç Reis’s management for the next two years was signed to Oras Maritime Corp., owned by Yıldırım’s close friend and rumored business partner Salih Zeki Çakır.

Turkey’s Mine Survey and Search Directorate General (MTA) paid Çakır’s company a total of $4.775 million on June 18, 2019, paying the Turkey-based company in dollars, tallying up nearly $11 million in tenders for only four services in the past year.

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Salih Zeki Çakır (right) presents Binali Yıldırım with a “Extraordinary Maritime Service” award in this file photo.

MTA bought protection services for Oruç Reis in a July 3, 2019 tender worth $2.3 million to Aras Towboat Company, while a July 11, 2019 tender for training services for the crew cost $2.6 million.

Lastly, in a Dec. 17, 2019 tender, the MTA paid Aras Towboat Co. $1.5 million for “services of a guard boat” for Oruç Reis.

Oruç Reis returned to waters near the southern Turkish province of Antalya on Sept. 13, Refinitiv data showed, a move that Greece said was a positive first step in easing tensions over offshore natural resources.