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Wednesday 17 December 2014

Hellenic Navy 1940-2016

Written by D-Mitch

Hellenic Navy in WWII

Hellenic Navy in 1940 in the beginning of the Greco-Italian War (War of' '40/Battle of Greece), the conflict that marked the beginning of the Balkans campaign of World War II, it consisted of the following warships:
- 1 armored cruiser (Averof); popularly known as a battleship
- 1 pre-dreadnought battleship (Kilkis) partly disarmed and operating as naval AA artillery
- 10 destroyers (Vasileus Georgios, Vasilissa Olga, Psara, Spetsai, Hydra, Kountouriotis, Leon, Panthir, Aetos, Ierax)
- 6 submarines (Proteus, Glaukos, Triton, Nireus, Katsonis, Papanikolis)
- 13 torpedo boats (Thyella, Sfendoni, Niki, Aspis, Prousa, Pergamos, Kyzikos, Kios, Kydoniai, Aigli, Akyoni, Arethousa, Doris)
- 4 minesweepers (Aliakmon, Aksios, Nestos, Strymon)
- 1 repair ship (Hephaestus)
The three battleships of Hellenic Navy, Georgios Averof, Kilkis and Lemnos.

In the Jane's Fighting Ships of 1940, the (Royal) Hellenic Navy consists of the following warships and classes depicted in a single image:

Hellenic Navy in 1940

Losses 1940-1941
 From 1940-1941, Hellenic Navy lost the following ships:
- 1 pre-dreadnought battleship (Kilkis)
- 4 destroyers (Vasileus Georgios, Psara, Hydra, Leon)
- 1 submarine (Proteus)
- 10 torpedo boats (Thyella, Prousa, Pergamos, Kyzikos, Kios, Kydoniai, Aigli, Akyoni, Arethousa, Doris)
- 4 minesweepers (Aliakmon, Aksios, Nestos, Strumon)

Armored cruiser Averof, the pride of Hellenic Navy, during WWII with a characteristic camo

Acquisitions 1941-1944
From 1941-1944, Hellenic Navy acquired the following ships:
- 10 destroyers (Pindos, Adrias, Miaoulis, Kanaris, Themistocles, Kriti, Aigaion, Astigx, Salamis, Navarinon)
- 4 corvettes (Sachtouris, Apostolis, Tompazis, Kriezis)
- 1 submarine chaser (Vasileus Georgios II)
- 4 tank landing ships (Lesvos, Samos, Limnos, Chios)
- 13 minesweepers (Paralos, Salamina, Karteria, Afroessa, Alfeios, Pineios, Acheloos, Eyrotas, Spercheios, Kasos, Kos, Leros, Patmos)
- 2 submarines (Pipinos, Matrozos)

Vasilissa Olga (D15), a modified version of the British G-class of destroyers, was the
most modern ship of the Royal Hellenic Navy at the outbreak of WWII. Vasilissa Olga had
distinguished herself as the most successful Greek ship in the war under her captain,
Lt. Cmdr. G. Blessas. Ironically, before she was sunk in 1943, she was known as the phantom
ship of the Mediterranean destroyer flotillas, because of the several times she had escaped damage.
Losses 1941-1944
 From 1941-1944, Hellenic Navy lost the following ships:
- 2 destroyers (Vasilissa Olga, Adrias)
- 3 submarines (Glaukos, Triton, Katsonis)
- 2 minesweepers (Kos, Kasos)

Sofia Vembo, the singer who became well known for her performance of patriotic songs
during the Greco-Italian War on board cruiser Averof, flagship of Hellenic Navy.

In October17, 1944, the exiled Greek Government returned in Greece. Hellenic Navy, consisted of the following warships:
- 1 armored cruiser (Averof)
- 15 destroyers (Pindos, Adrias, Miaoulis, Kanaris, Themistocles, Kriti, Spetsai, Kountouriotis, Salamis, Navarinon, Aigaion, Astigx, Aetos, Ierax, Panthir)
- 5 submarines (Pipinos, Matrozos, Nireus, Papanikolis, Delfin)
- 4 corvettes (Sachtouris, Apostolis, Kriezis, Tompazis)
- 3 torpedo boats (Niki, Aspis, Sfendoni)
- 1 submarine chaser (Vasileus Georgios  II)
- 4 tank landing ships (Lesvos, Samos, Limnos, Chios)
- 13 minesweepers (Paralos, Salamina, Karteria, Afroessa, Alfeios, Thasos, Acheloos, Eyrotas, Tauros, Kasos, Kos, Leros, Patmos)
- 1 repair ship (Hephaestus)

Hellenic Navy in 1944. Image by Jane's Fighting Ships.

Hellenic Navy at the end of the 20th century

Kimon, last Hellenic Navy destroyer, fires an SM-1 SAM
Before the beginning of the 21st century and after the end of the 1st Gulf War, the period 1991-1992, Hellenic Navy acquired from the United States four destroyers (Charles F. Adams class) and three frigates (Knox class) and from Germany five Thetis class corvettes. All those ships had been built in the '60s. With the introduction into service of those frigates and destroyers, the Navy retired during the coming years twelve (12) old and obsolete destroyers. Specifically the navy decommissioned six FRAM I destroyers (the last one in 1997), two FRAM II destroyers (both in 1992), the remaining three Fletcher class destroyers (the last one in 1991) and the sole destroyer escort of the Rhein class (in 1991). All the seven "new" warships had the already in service with the Navy, ASROC system but the most important was that the four destroyers had in their armament the SM-1 anti-aircraft medium range missiles giving for first time this capability to the Greek fleet. The seven ships had a short career. The first of the Knox class frigates, Macedonia, was decommissioned in January of 1999 (according to other sources in December of 1998) while some days earlier, Salamis, the last MEKO frigate entered into service. The last Knox frigate was retired in 2002. Two years earlier, one of the largest ever warships of Hellenic Navy, the dock landing ship Naukratousa was retired.

The Hellenic Navy in December of 1998. High resolution image here.

Naukratousa next to trireme Olympias
Hermes SIGINT ship
The 2002 was the year when the first Charles F. Adams destroyer was decommissioned with the last one, Kimon, being retired in 2004. This was the last destroyer in service with the Hellenic Navy. The Navy till today has no missile such as the SM-1 in its inventory, no ASROC launcher neither a dock landing ship. That period, 2002-2004, the first vessels of the new advanced Roussen class fast missile craft entered into service and that led the old Combattante II fast missile craft into retirement. At the same period, four more Kortenaer class frigates joined the fleet. In 2002 the sole (and till today the only ship of this category ever in Greek service) SIGINT ship of Hellenic Navy, Hermes, was retired. In 2003-2005 the two Panagopoulos class and the four Type 141 torpedo class were retired. Some years earlier the last US-built landing ships with origin from WWII had been put out of service while more Jason class tank landing ships and Zubr air-cushioned landing craft joined the Navy. The same happened to the two old minelayers, former USN LSM1 class medium landing ships with origin from WWII that had been converted to minelayers before transferred to Greece as well as to the old Patapsco class oilers. The large number of US-built minehunters and minesweepers had been retired before the modern Osprey class minehunters entered into service with the Hellenic Navy. Corvettes, coastal patrol boats and torpedo boats were decommissioned after more modern gunboats were commissioned such as those of the Machitis class.

Hellenic Navy today

Today, after approximately 75 years, Hellenic Navy deploys a powerful fleet with modern vessels while older ships have been modernized or they are under modernization program. The last three S148 class missile boats will be replaced by two new Roussen class missile boats which are currently under construction. A nice video about today's Hellenic Navy, you can enjoy here.

Τhe past meets the present! Cruiser G.Averof, once the most modern ship in HN during WWI,
it served successfully in WWII, now a museum ship, meets Salamis, the most modern frigate of HN

By December 31, 2016 (updated article), Hellenic Navy will consist of the following warships:
- 13 frigates (Hydra, Spetsai, Psara, Salamis, Elli, Limnos, Kountouriotis, Adrias, Aigaion, Navarinon, Kanaris, Themistocles, Nikiforos Fokas)
- 11 submarines (Papanikolis, Pipinos, Matrozos, Katsonis, Okeanos, Poseidon, Amfitriti, Pontos, Nireus, Triton, Proteus)
- 17 fast attack missile craft (Roussen, Daniolos, Krystallidis, Grigoropoulos, Ritsos, Laskos, Blessas, Troupakis, Mikonios, Kavaloudis, Degiannis, Xenos, Simitzopoulos, Starakis, Votsis, Pezopoulos, Maridakis)
- 10 large patrol vessels (Machitis, Nikiforos, Aittitos, Krataios, Kasos, Polemistis, Armatolos, Naumachos, Tolmi, Ormi)
- 6 coastal patrol boats (Antoniou, Stamos, Andromeda, Pigasos, Kyknos,Toxotis)
- 5 large tank landing ships (Chios, Lesvos, Ikaria, Samos, Rodos)
- 4 large hovercraft of which the two are not active (Kefallinia, Ithaki, Kerkyra, Zakynthos)
- 3 logistic support/replenishment ships (Prometheus, Axios, Aliakmon)
- 18 ASW helicopters S-70 and AB212
and many other auxiliary vessels (auxiliaries 2nd rate are excluded)

The Hellenic Navy by the end of 2016. High resolution image here.

Source for the composition of Hellenic Navy fleet during WWII and today:


  1. Hellenic Navy is the only Navy in the World that never loose a flag. Thanks for posting.

  2. I wonder if it was a mistake decommissioning the destroyers. Maybe they should have been kept for their SM-1s until something better replaced them rather than removing them all together or maybe looking into modding the existing vessels to carry it? If we haven't already.