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Wednesday 30 September 2020

SuperTermoli (ST) 60 - The best fast interceptor craft of the Hellenic Navy Underwater Demolition Command

Written by D-Mitch
The SuperTermoli (ST) 60 ΣΑΠ 11 returns into active
service fully modernized and upgraded!
The Underwater Demolition Command (UDC) (Greek: Διοίκηση Υποβρυχίων Καταστροφών), abbreviated as DYK) is the Hellenic Navy's elite special warfare unit. The DYK is organized into sections called Underwater Demolition Teams (Greek: Ομάδες Υποβρυχίων Καταστροφών), commonly known in their abbreviated form as OYK, that specialize in a particular area. DYK integrates Special Operation Forces (SOF) teams, Amphibious Reconnaissance Teams, Explosive Ordnance Teams (EOD), Special Operation Craft (SOC, ΣΑΠ in Greek) and Underwater Vessels (UV), the Underwater Demolition School (UDS), and the Underwater Demolition Base (UDB) according to the Operation Planning and under the orders of Hellenic Navy General Staff and Hellenic Navy Fleet Command. Among the several boats of different types (unfortunately) in the Command's inventory, there is one that distinguishes from all the rest thanks to its performance and size. This is the ST60 interceptor, the only real interceptor craft actually in the SOC fleet, designed by the Italian manufacturer SuperTermoli and built in Greece.

The under modernization ΣΑΠ 11 next to the abandoned ΣΑΠ 10

SuperTermoli is a high-speed vessel manufacturing company based in Kallithea, Attica. The construction of the boats takes place in a shipyard in the area of Schimatari, Boeotia.

Italian (GdF) ST60s
Civilian ST60 at high speed
It is worth mentioning that the SuperTermoli was the typical hull used by smugglers, so named because it was the enhanced version of Termoli, built in a shipyard in Termoli; it was an 18-meter "monster" with four 750hp Seatek diesel engines, Trimax propulsion for a speed of 65 knots, speed that was kept even at night! The only way to stop the smugglers' hulls, which had to their advantage speed or handling or both, was to trap the propellers with the cables used for the trawl fishing net with the steel core: it was not enough for them to took in the propellers, you had to force them to run for a long time with that rope in the propellers to make the inverters go down. The cables were spun by putting the smugglers' boats alongside the bow and the side, juxtaposed quickly and discarded, in order to make them end up in the propellers of the outlaw boat. The boats, were unstoppable for long time and the name of their designers become mythical: SuperTermoli, Corbelli and Buzzi. 

Things definitely improved for the Italian Guardia di Finanza in 2001 with the commission into service of more powerful vessels, such as the Fabio Buzzi's V6000 Class and of course SuperTermolis!

Guardia di Finanza ST60 at high speed

Guardia di Finanza ST60 at 65 knots!

Guardia di Finanza ST60 at high speed maneuvres

This was the case also for Greece back in the '90s and early 2000s with the introduction into service of fast models, and a combination of advanced surveillance (mainly by the Hellenic Navy boats) and helicopters, managed gradually to stop the trafficking with the use of powerboats. Two ST60s that were used by traffickers were seized by the Hellenic Coast Guard and were given to the Navy for use by the Special Forces in 2003.

The two ST60s in active service back in the 2000s

One of the SuperTermolis. Note the portholes which have been
currently removed during its modernization program, the old navigation
radars and the machine gun at the stern. Photo via Γ.Μ.

The technologies and expertise of SuperTermoli have given rise to a vessel comparable to a supercar: tremendously fast, but also able to navigate safely at cruising speeds substantially above the upper limits of many other boats! This line of models is high-speed powerboats made of fiberglass specifically designed for special operations. Depending on the engines installed, they can reach a top speed of more than 70 knots (the newer models) even in rough waters and can carry maximum 20 people for special missions. SuperTermoli powerboats are made to offer reliability and endurance under extreme situations that long-range operations demand, maintaining speeds of 60 knots.

Recent photo with the two SuperTermolis parked alongside.
It is clear that the one in the foreground, the ΣΑΠ 11, is in very good condition

The hull of SuperTermoli powerboat has been proven as seaworthy and high performance designed to reduce drag and friction while providing extra lift force. They are boats full of Italian technology and represent the state of the art of shipbuilding and mechanical engineering for boating. The hull, engines, transmissions and all technical equipment are produced with advanced technologies. its boats for high performance and high standards of safety and reliability. All SuperTermoli powerboats have been designed and developed to operate under the most difficult conditions and have proven to be reliable and efficient in almost any sea conditions.

The elegant lines of the modernized ST60 type ΣΑΠ 11

ΣΑΠ 11
ΣΑΠ 11
All models are created as highly capable extremely high speed vessels for tomorrow's defense and law enforcement duties and moreover they are carefully tailored to suit each individual operator’s particular requirements. Their design can be adapted to the most demanding "applications" of these services, providing comfort and safety to their crews. Advanced composite materials and technologies are used extensively to maximize range, mission payload, speed, shallow water capabilities, reliability/availability, maintainability and multi-mission capabilities. External fittings on the craft are kept to a minimum to maintain a low radar cross-section. The regulation of the behavior of the boat takes place through a complete propulsion system with dynamic cruising equalization that includes four drive shafts, two hydraulic TRIM TABS RACING type fins and a JOLLY DRIVE SPECIAL surface drive system. The fins are placed symmetrically on the transom and their control is done remotely by the switch in console of the cockpit. There are four ZF gear boxes and four SILROP NiBraL propellers.

View of the ΣΑΠ 11's advanced propulsion system

TRIM TABS RACING fins and SILROP NiBraL propellers
The general characteristics of the ST60 is 18,6m length overall, 3,4m beam max, 1m draft and 2,8 height max only. The displacement is about 16t, the full load displacement more than 25t, max speed at light conditions >60 kts (with 4 SEATEK x725HP) and range >400n.m with the cruising speed about 45kts. It can operate even at 7-8 Beaufort with absolute safety! Accommodation typically consists of an open or semi-enclosed cockpit with various seating layouts. The upper deck can accommodate up to 10 seats and the lower deck a WC compartment and up to 20 seats depending on the layout. Both the cabin and cockpit (enclosed version) can be air conditioned.

ΣΑΠ 10 today. Note the strange position of the machine gun mount

ΣΑΠ 10
The boats carry two (2) to four (4) engines depending on the model and the user. Τhe boats of the Hellenic Navy have different engines between them. The ΣΑΠ 10 (Σκάφος Ανορθόδοξου Πολέμου 10, English: Unconventional Warfare Vessel 10) has four (4) Seatec 725HP while the ΣΑΠ 11 has four (4) Isotta Fraschini Motori 650HP. Unfortunately none of the boats is operational since many years now due to technical problems mainly due to limited or wrong maintenance and use respectively. Specifically, the ΣΑΠ 10 needs a complete refurbishment, new engines, radars, marine reduction gear, etc. The cost to return the vessel back in active service is really high, almost similar to the cost of buying a new built, therefore the boat will be scrapped.

ΣΑΠ 10 in terrible condition; it will never return to service

On the contrary, ΣΑΠ 11, is in a very good state, and it needs only new engines and an upgrade on the hull, while it has received already some of the upgrades. Note that the two boats among other electronics, were equipped a pair of navigation radars while the armament consisted of a heavy machine gun on a special mount at the stern at an extremely unstable and uncomfortable position, with the gunner fully exposed and forced to do.. stunts (!) in order to balance during the voyage.

Note the SIMRAD radars, one of the new mounts and the
absence of portholes on the hull
Spartan Mil. and Jockey Mil. suspension
seats at the upper deck for 10 people

The upper deck
Analytically, the ΣΑΠ 11 craft has received new navigation radars by SIMRAD, new mounts at each side of the boat at the rear sector while the mount at the stern has been removed. The most significant change though is the elimination of the two portholes at each side of the hull in order to accommodate a gunner and its weapon on a mount at the foredeck in a specially designed position within the hull like a "basket" so the gunner is partially protected. This modification created a unique heavily armed variant and more likely the best of all military ST60s! Note that only the civil versions of the boats have portholes on the hull; that is the case for the Greek SuperTermolis as it was mentioned earlier that they were operated by civilians. Externally, at the semi-closed cabin, there at two (2) seats for the crew, four (4) Spartan Mil. and four (4) Jockey Mil. suspension seats for the passengers while at the lower deck there is a WC compartment and space for cargo. The seats for the passengers at the lower deck have been removed due to the modification with the gunner seat at the forward part of the boat.

Note the two new mounts at each side of the boat

The Navy rebuilt the vessel and created a gunner's position at the foredeck!

The displacement has been raised to over 25t. According to our information, the Navy wants to install four (4) FPT 650HP each or two (2) MAN of 1300HP each. More likely a FLIR device will be installed atop the second SIMRAD. The boat is expected to be back into service, fully modernized, in the beginning of 2021, and will definitely increase the capabilities of DYK.

View of the cockpit of ΣΑΠ 11.
Note the door for the stairs to the lower deck

The manufacturer offers its latest model ST60MMI (multi-mission interceptor), a craft that has even higher capabilities than the initial ST60. The new model, thanks to its new design, exceeds the 70 knots with the exact same engines while it can carry a load of more than 10t. The new model is offered with 4 x 800hp SEATEK diesel engines with JOLLY DRIVE Special surface drives or 2 x 1300hp MAN V8. A variety of weapon systems, including fully automated giro stabilized remote-weapon stations (RWS) and pedestal mounted weapons up to 0.50cal, to ensure full 360 degree cover when operating in a fire support role. Its design also offers improved navigational characteristics even under extremely difficult weather conditions. The new model has SHOXS 8100 seats for 10-12 people at the lower deck, a WC compartment and cargo space, and can host 8 people at the upper deck on Spartan Mil. and Jockey Mil. seats.

The ST60MMI boasts a range of systems facilities and options including Raymarine e125 Chartplotter, Raymarine AIS 650 (A/B receiver & B Sander), Raymarine Ray240 VHF, FLIR M-Series Night Vision Thermal Camera, Raymarine Open Array Super HD radar 4kW 48“, Glomex VHF & AIS antennas, 8“ Display, Digital SEATEK TRONIK engine monitoring system, Electro-hydraulic Power Steering ESPE 1500, Rudder indicator on Autopilot Controller, Manual trim tabs with indicated manual control, Synchronization system to the engine revolution, Engine and gear ALARMS, Three (3) bilge pumps Auto and Manual + Bilge Alarm and a variety of navigation, INTERCOM, SATCOM, radio and communication systems available to end user specification.

The cost for a new SuperTermoli? Less than 2 million euros for a non-aluminum high speed boat! The question is why so many years, the Navy or the Coast Guard has not been interested to purchase such a real powerboat that can really fulfill the requirements of the operations. These kind of boats with their unique characteristics and performance, which exceed every other current boat in DYK's force, have a formidable reputation and are currently in service with Guardia di Finanza as it was mentioned earlier and individuals across Europe, but not in Greece which can build them locally in less than 6 months per boat!

Cutaway of ST60MMI variant. Note the 20 seats at the lower deck!

From left to right: Spartan Mil. suspension seat, Jockey Mil. suspension seat and SHOXS 8100 seat

The Hellenic Navy or the Hellenic Coast Guard by integrating into their fleets such types of powerboats fully meet their needs which begin from investigation and rescue, sea strike operations, maritime counter-terrorism, fight against piracy, trafficking, smuggling and illegal immigration, protection of vulnerable vessels, harbor and offshore installations, defense against asymmetric threats and speedboats and even emergency assistance in cases of major maritime or aviation accidents as they can carry rafts (specially designed variant), and operational capability in sea state 6+ Beaufort that could easily safeguard the Greek maritime borders and prevent any thought for illegal immigration or trafficking. Just imagine a DYK with 3-4 such powerboats, equipped with RWS and a variety of machine guns and grenade launchers, operating together with the Mk V SOC as the medium range insertion and extraction platforms for SOF, surveillance craft such as Okyalos, the newest RIBs in the fleet, and others. A formidable force and really capable for any mission given!
ΣΑΠ 11 is being modernized and will return in service more
powerful than ever before, in the first months of 2021!


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