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Wednesday, 30 June 2021

PHOTO GALLERY #39: Mk V Special Operations Craft of the Hellenic Navy

Hellenic Navy Mk V SOC in the Inspection of the Fleet by
the President of the Hellenic Republic Katerina
Sakellaropoulou on June 10, 2021.
This is a collection of photos that includes some photos I took about a year ago of the Mark (Mk) V special operations craft (SOC) when they were delivered prior their modernization and commissioning in the Hellenic Navy Fleet, and photos of the vessels in service today from the Hellenic Navy and Hellenic National Defence General Staff websites. The Mk V SOC (Special Operations Craft) is a marine security, patrol, and special forces insertion boat used by the United States Navy and manufactured by VT Halter Marine Inc (Gulfport, Mississippi). Its length is 25 meters,
weighs 57 tons in operational configuration and achieves a speed greater than 50 knots (cruising speed about 30 knots). There are four mounts on board that can receive a variety of weapons including general purpose machine guns, mini-guns, heavy machine guns and automatic grenade launchers, providing 360 degrees of firing coverage. Stinger MANPADS, mini UAV and small military inflatable boats are carried also. 
Mk V SOC in US Navy service

The Mark V has the capacity to carry 16 fully equipped SOF men to missions +550 nautical miles away from where they are based. They ride on seats that are designed for maximum comfort and shock mitigation in high seas or heavy maneuvering, and allows occupants to either stand or sit. Its angular design and low silhouette reduces its radar signature making it harder to spot and detect. Its V-hull design gives it good handling qualities in rough water as well as speed and shallow draft.
Mk V SOC was introduced into service with the US Navy SEALs in 1995 and was removed from service in 2013 replaced partially by the Combatant Craft Medium (CCM).
 
The delivery of the four boat at Salamis Naval Base in April 2020
 
The delivery of the Mk Vs
The four vessels
Greece received four (4) such vessels in April 6, 2020
via the Excess Defense Articles program for use with the Underwater Demolition Command. The vessels handed over to Greece free of charge and the only cost involved the preparations for the transport of the vessels, the transporting them from the USA in Greece and their refitting/modernization. In the following photos I took, it is clear that their condition was not the best.
 
 
One of the vessels under refurbishment and modernization at Salamis Naval Base.
 

The boats were given the names Aeolus (P62), Astrapi (Lightning) (P63), Hesperus (P64) and Centaur (P65). Below, some photos from an exercise that took place on February 5, 2021, where you can their excellent condition today.


Mk Vs during an exercise on
June 29, 2021. Photo: Stam Pittas

Mk Vs during an exercise on
June 29, 2021.
Photo: Stam Pittas
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. 
 

 
The Mk Vs are currently the largest vessels and most capable in UDC's inventory enhancing significantly the operational capabilities of the Unit. Their armament in Greek service include two M2HB 12.7mm heavy machine guns at the rear close to the launch ramp and two FN MAG 7.62mm general purpose machine guns or two Mk19 40mm grenade launchers amidships. They usually carry one or two inflatable Zodiac rubber boats and there is enough space to accommodate and launch a small UAV. 
 
Mk V SOC with the new communications terminal atop the mast
Mk V featuring the new communications terminal atop the mast
Photo by Dimitris Dimitrakopoulos
 
Two boats are currently in active service, Astrapi and Aeolus, after an extensive maintenance and refitting program. They feature, among others, a FURUNO navigation radar and they have received recently a communications terminal from Intracom Defence Electronics at the top of the mast, as part of the Aegeas tactical communication and information network in order to improve mission effectiveness and situation awareness of the Fleet, as well as the coordination of military units and decision making process. The vessels will receive also an electro-optical sensor. The article will be updated accordingly.

Mk V SOC in the Inspection of the Hellenic Navy Fleet by
the President of the Hellenic Republic on June 10, 2021.

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