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Greece - The Hellenic Navy

The Hellenic Navy is assigned to carry out the necessary missions and tasks in order to contribute to the deterrence of any external threat, preserve the territorial integrity of the country, protect Greece's sovereign rights and national interests and fulfil the objectives of the national defence policy.

In order to achieve those tasks, Greece must project the maximum of its naval power. Greece with its 3000 islands, the connecting link between the Black Sea, the Straits and the SE Mediterranean, Cyprus and the Middle East, constitutes a region with significant geopolitical and geoeconomic importance for the West, and as a result, the development of the naval power is a principal defence objective.

Forthe Greek Navy, the main local operation area is the Aegeanand Ionian Sea. As Greece lies between three continents (Europe, Asia, Africa), there is a great deal of sea traffic and potential illegal activity, such as smuggling, exploitation of illegal immigrants, and possible terrorist activity. These seas make distinctive and interesting foci because they abound with islands. This creates a difficult environment for sea operations and gives enemies many hiding opportunities.

The Hellenic Navy General Staff (HNGS) is the staff organisation which assists the Chief, HNGS, and through him, the Minister of Defence in performing his duty: it is organised into commands and directorates and covers a wide spectrum of activities and functions. The Fleet Command, with headquarters in Salamis Naval Base, is tasked with the organisation, command, operational training, maintenance, security, and war readiness of the ships and the services of the Fleet Command.

The Naval Training Command, with headquarters in Scaramangas, is tasked with the training of the cadres of the Navy and the career management of the other ranks. The Logistic Support Command, with headquarters in Athens, is tasked with the provision of optimum logistical support for the ships and the naval services. The Naval Bases of Salamis and Crete, and the Naval Supply Centre are subordinate to this command.

The Naval Forces include separate commands and services, some operational such as the Naval Commands, the Advanced Naval Bases, the MEDEAST HQS, 353 Airmaritime Co-operation Squadron, the 353 hydrographic service, and others of logistic support, such as the Naval Cadets Academy, the Naval War Academy etc.

The goals of the Hellenic Naval Strategy are as follows:

  • deterrence
  • naval presence
  • sea control and
  • power protection ashore
The Fleet is a defence and deterrence instrument and it is tasked to:
  • contribute to the safeguarding of Greece's territorial integrity,
  • defend the country's sovereign rights on the continental shelf,
  • maintain open sea-lines of communication, and
  • contribute to the high morale of the population of the islands.
The fleet may conduct the following operations:
  • maritime surveillance and collection of information throughout the Hellenic seas. For this purpose, units of the Fleet constantly use the islands as their bases to conduct continuous or occasional surveillance and reconnaissance patrols;
  • naval presence throughout the Mediterranean sea as an instrument of national defence policy and manifestation of political determination;
  • conduct of naval, airmaritime and joint exercises in an operational environment, as well as the participation in allied exercises, for the purpose of familiarising the personnel and ensuring high-level training;
  • maintenance of the Hellenic naval tradition, a centuries old heritage which has brought the Hellenic civilisation through the seas;
  • conduct of transports in support of the other services of the Armed Forces;
  • use of naval power for crisis management;
  • maintaining the regular flow in the local sea lines of communication;
  • enhancing the morale of the population of the islands;
The naval presence on the Hellenic islands and particularly on those of the Eastern Aegean as well as the wider region of the island of Kerkyra (Corfu) is continuous. This presence is exercised by warship patrols which have the duty to confront any activities against Greece's national security, assist the Coast Guard in intercepting the infiltration of illegal immigrants in Greece as well as successfully tackle drugs trafficking, arms smuggling etc. Ships, helicopters and other units of the Navy also contribute to social activities and participate in peace-support missions. Naval operational training is conducted at various levels, since the ships of the Fleet participate in both national and NATO exercises. The annual training program conducted mainly afloat includes:
  • Large scale combined tactical exercises (LIVEX) with the participation of all the services of the Armed Forces.
  • Medium and small scale tactical and technical exercises directed by various command levels, starting from Flotilla Commands and Squadrons.
  • Large scale command post exercises (CPX).
  • Medium scale multinational technical exercises (INVITEX), in which the Navies of the NATO-member countries are invited.
  • Participation in allied multinational INVITEX-type exercises of other countries.
The Navy, in order to successfully accomplish its mission, disposes a sizeable fleet consisting mainly of attack units, such as frigates, destroyers, fast missile boats and submarines, equipped with modern electronic and weapon systems, and numerous logistic boats (oil tankers etc.) necessary for the support of battle units. The destroyers and the frigates which constitute the core of the Hellenic Fleet, with large displacement and strong fire power, can simultaneously conduct all types of missions such as surface missions, air-defence and antisubmarine warfare.

Modern and effective weapons of the Navy include the surface-to-surface guided missiles HARPOON, PENGUIN and EXOCET, the surface-to-air guided missiles SEA SPARROW and STANDARD, as well as the air-to-air guided missiles PENGUIN fired from the modern SHIKORSKY helicopters. These helicopters, together with the older AB-212 and the new airmaritime co-operation aircraft P-3B, constitute the core of the Fleet's air-arm. They participate both in surface operations and in anti-submarine missions, since they are equipped with special submarine detection systems and respective weapons. The silent sail, the modern electronic torpedoes and the sensitive sonar systems are the main features of the flexible 209 type submarines of the Hellenic Fleet. The presence of the fast boats of the Hellenic Navy in the Aegean is continuous and dynamic.





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