FAST BOATS COMMAND-HISTORY

About a century ago a new threat appeared for surface ships which radically changed the nature of naval warfare creating the need to review existing dogmas. It was with the form of small, agile, fast moving ships whose main armament included torpedoes and were named Torpedo Boats. As the years passed, constant technology improvements as well as rapid changes in naval operations created the need for building modern Fast Ships with extended weapon capabilities, such as semi-automatic or automatic cannons and guided missiles in order to operate at high speeds and have enough firepower to surprise the enemy. This finally added up to the modern Fast Boats, as we know them today.

The first Fast Boat of our Navy was the Torpedo Boat "Ionia" which was later named Torpedo Boat No 18. It was commissioned by H.N. at 1881 and was of French construction with a 40 ton displacement and a maximum speed of 19 knots. Around that time, five more Torpedo Boats of that class were acquired. In the next four years, the H.N. added to its Torpedo Boat fleet six more Torpedo Boats of English construction (numbers 6,7,8,9,10 and 17) with a displacement of 48 tons which were armed with a rotating torpedo tube and 37mm cannons. These Torpedo Boats were primarily used to defend national coastlines and to pursuit smugglers.

The first Torpedo Boats showed a sample of their operational capabilities during the wars of 1912-1913. It is worth mentioning two historical incidents that clearly showed the aggressive attitude of those ships' crews.

On the 18th of November 1912, Torpedo Boat 11 with Lieutenant N. Votsis as CO, ignoring orders from HQ proceeds in the Thermaic Gulf and sinks using torpedoes the turkish Battleship FETIH BOULENT. It escaped under heavy hostile fire avoiding any damage.
On the 6th of November 1912, Torpedo Boat 14 with Lieutenant N. Argiropoulos as CO, enters Aivali and boards the Turkish Gunboat TRA BZON. After a few failed attempts to haul her, he abandons the idea and sinks her. Then, the Torpedo Boat 14 escapes under heavy fire from coastal Turkish batteries.

During the period from 1912 to 1914 the VULKAN-class Torpedo Boats "ALKION", "EGLI", "ARETHOUSSA", "DAFNE", "DORIS" and "THETIS" were acquired. These were of German construction with a displacement of 145 tons and a maximum speed of 21 knots. They were armed with 3 torpedo tubes of 45cm each and two 6-pounder cannons. They participated in WWI and Asia Minor Campaign.

Furthermore, from 1914 to 1915 the Hellenic Navy acquired six Torpedo Boats of Italian construction: they were "KIOS", "KIZIKOS", "KIDONIE", "PERGAMOS", "PANORMOS" and "PROYSSA". They had a displacement of 250 tons and a maximum speed of 28 knots ("KIOS","KIZIKOS","KIDONIE") and 24 knots ("PERGAMOS","PANORMOS","PROUSSA"). They were equipped with a 37mm cannon and two 21-inch torpedo tubes.

The Torpedo Boat is dominating the H.N. until 1930 with constant upgrades in armament and maximum speed. In 1929, the H.N. acquired its first 2 Torpedo Boats (T1 and T2). They were of English construction (build at the THORNYCROFT shipyard) with a displacement of 15 tons and with a maximum speed of 37 knots. Their armament consisted of two cannons, two depth charges and two torpedos fired out from the stern.

During WWII, the Hellenic Navy's fleet of Torpedo Boats consisted of "KIOS", "KIZIKOS", "KIDONIAI", "PERGAMOS", "PROUSSA" "T1" and "T2". On 25/4/1941, "KYZIKOS" and "PERGAMOS" were scuttled to avoid falling into German hands. "PROUSSA" was sank on 4/4/1941 while in Corfu due to leaking as a result of a german air raid. "KIOS" was sank on 23/4/1941 in Vouliagmeni and "KIDONIE" on 26/4/1941 in Monemvasia because of a german air raid. "T1" and "T2" had a similar fate.
Establishing The Fast Patrol Boats Command

Before the war, the Fast Boats were not a Command by themselves but they belonged to the Aegean Fleet and Ionian Fleet Commanders. On 21/11/1966 the Fast Patrol Boats Command was established with home base in Amfiali. The first Commander was Commander G. Dimitropoulos and it was the first time that the Fast Patrol Boats were an independent Command in the H.N. directly under Fleet HQ.

The first Fast Boats that consisted the Flotilla were six NASTY-class Torpedo Boats. These ships were the first ships after the WWII that were ordered and paid by the Greek Government, constructed in the NORWEGIAN shipyard of MANDAL during the period 1966 - 1967.

The 6 NASTY-class Torpedo Boats which were named after constellations and were:

  1. HS ANDROMEDA: Was accepted in MANDAL on 21 November 1966 (CO: Lieutenant I. Theofilopoulos). It currently operates as a Coast Guard Ship positioned at East Aegean.
  2. HS INIOCHOS: Was accepted in MANDAL on 11 November 1966 (CO: Lieutenant G. Demestichas). On 20/10/1968 it crashed on the southwestern edge of island DOROUSSA and sank without casualties.
  3. HS KASTOR: Was accepted on 16 February 1967 (CO: Lieutenant E. Kanavariotis). It was decommissioned on 28/11/1983.
  4. HS KIKNOS: Was accepted on 25 February 1967 (CO: Lieutenant I. Nyridiotis). It currently operates as a Patrol Boat positioned at the East Aegean.
  5. HS PIGASOS: Was accepted on 12 April 1967 (CO: Lieutenant K. Gitakos). It currently operates as a Patrol Boat positioned at the East Aegean.
  6. HS TOXOTIS: Was accepted on 31 May 1967 (CO: Lieutenant K. Betsis). It currently operates as a Patrol Boat positioned at the East Aegean.

In 1968, in the scope of German military help, the Torpedo Boats EOLOS (former german PHEIL) and ASTRAPI (former german STRAHL) were handed over to the Hellenic Navy. Those Torpedo Boats were the first in the Hellenic Navy fleet with aero-turbine propulsion and were originally ordered from England during a research to develop new Fast Boat technologies. EOLOS was a FEROCITY-class Fast Boat of British construction in VOSPER shipyard. It was accepted by Lieutenant E. ZAROKOSTAS on the 9th of June 1968. ASTRAPI was a BRAVE-class Fast Boat (also of VOSPER shipyards). It was accepted by Lieutenant I. LAFOGIANNIS on the 4th of November 1968. These two Fast Boats were both repaired in their original construction shipyard, VOSPER before being transported to Greece. EOLOS was decommissioned on 10-7-1976 and ASTRAPI on 22-1-1978.

Furthermore, Greece received in 1968 from Germany five more Mowe-class Fast Boats constructed between 1951 and 1956. These 5 Mowe-class Fast Ships were named after constellations and were:

  1. HS POLIDEFKIS: Accepted by Lieutenant A. Chrysikopoulos on the 22 of November 1968. It was decommissioned on March 21, 1974.
  2. HS FINIX: Accepted by Lieutenant I. Skentzos on the 22 of November 1968. It was decommissioned on March 21, 1974. It was used as a target for an AS-11 missile practice firing in the Cretan firing range on July 1976.
  3. HS POLIKOS: Accepted by Lieutenant N. Togkas on the 27 of November 1968. It was decommissioned on March 21, 1974.
  4. HS DRAKON: Accepted by Lieutenant K. Dimitriades on the 17 of November 1968. It was decommissioned on March 21, 1974.
  5. HS DELFIN: Accepted by Lieutenant N. Papadogonas on the 17 of November 1968. It was decommissioned on March 21, 1974.

The 1970s is the most important period in the history of the Fast patrol Boats Command because it acquired its first four COMBATTANTE-class Missile Boats.

On August 7, 1970 the Navy founds a naval detachment in Cherbourg, France with the purpose of constructing four COMBATTANTE II-class Fast Boats. Those were the most advanced Fast Boats at the time and their introduction in the Hellenic Navy's fleet presented a new weapon, called the guided missile. The four ships were ordered in 1968 and were constructed in CMN shipyard in Cherbourg during the period from 1970 to 1972. Specifically the four COMBATTANTE II-class ships are:

HS KONIDIS: Commissioned on December 31, 1971 in Cherbourg (CO: Lieutenant N. PAPADOGONAS) and sailed to Greece on February 2 1972. It was originally named KIMOTHI but was later renamed on June 23 1976 to KONIDIS in honour of Lieutenant Th. Konidis, killed in action during the sinking of submarine PROTEFS on December 29, 1940. It was decommissioned on December 11, 2003.
HS BATSIS: Commissioned on January 12, 1972 in Cherbourg (CO: Lieutenant G. TOGAS) and sailed to Greece on May 1, 1972. It was originally named KALIPSO but was later renamed on June 23 1976 to MPATSIS in honour of Lieutenant Batsis, killed in action during the sinking of the Destroyer OLGA on September 26, 1943. It was handed over to Georgia on April 23, 2004.
HS ARLIOTIS: Commissioned on March 23, 1972 in Cherbourg (CO: Lieutenant Commander G. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS) and sailed to Greece on July 9, 1972. It was originally named EVNIKI but was later renamed on June 23 1976 to ARLIOTIS in honour of Lieutenant N. Arliotis, killed in action during the sinking of the Destroyer YDRA on April 22, 1941. It was decommissioned on September 12, 2004.
HS ANNINOS: Commissioned on May 25, 1972 in Cherbourg (CO: Lieutenant Commander G. ANAGNOSTOPOULOS) and sailed to Greece on August 1, 1972. It was originally named NAFSITHOE but renamed on June 23 1976 to ANNINOS in honour of Sub-Lieutenant K. ANNINOS, killed in action during the sinking of the submarine TRITON on September 16, 1942. It was decommissioned on September 12, 2004.

Obtaining these ships, the Fast Boat Flotilla was comprised of 5 NASTY-class Torpedo Boats, 5 Mowe-class Torpedo Boats, the ships AIOLOS, ASTRAPI and the squadron of 4 Fast Missile Boats created on September 3, 1972. The organization of all Torpedo Boats and all Missile Boats in different squadrons remains even after the decommission of the five Mowe-class Torpedo Boats on March 21, 1974.

In 1975, four new fast boats were integrated in the fleet, the HS GOULANDRIS, HS Kelefstis STAMOU, HS Diopos ANTONIOU and HS PANAGOPOULOS. HS GOULANDRIS was a donation of shipyards "Neorio Syrou". It was commissioned on June 25 1975. It had a displacement of 40 tons and a maximum speed of 26 knots. It was equipped with a 20mm cannon. HS Kelefstis STAMOU and HS Diopos Antiniou are of ESTEREL class and were built in 1974-1975 by the french shipyard CHANTIERS NAVALDEL ESTEREL. These ships were ordered by Cyprus for its own needs but the turkish invasion of 1974 never allowed it to receive them and were finally received by Greece. They have a displacement of 80 tons and a maximum speed of 27 knots. Propulsion is achieved by two diesel (MTU) engines with 1350 BHP each. They are armed with 4 ground-to-ground guided missiles SS-12, a 40mm L-70 cannon and a 20mm (RH) cannon. HS STAMOY was commissioned in Cannes on July 28, 1975 (CO: Lieutenant A. MICHOUDES) and sailed to Greece on August 5, 1975. HS Diopos ANTONIOU was received on December 4 1975 in Cannes (CO: Lieutenant E. SERAFEIMIDES) and sailed to Greece on December 24, 1975. It was named after ANTONIOU, who was killed in action during the sinking of HS ADRIAS by German Torpedo Boats. HS PANAGOPOULOS-I was a donation of the shipyard of Eug. Panagopoulos. It was built in the U.S.A. and transported to Greece. It had a displacement of 40 tons and was armed with two 6-barrel arrays of 106mm each.

Upon recognizing the importance of the role of the Fast Boats operating in the Aegean, the Greek government orders four more COMBATTANTE III-B-class Fast Missile Ships. So on January 13, 1976 naval detachment was established in Cherbourg with the purpose of constructing four new Fast Missile Ships with a displacement of 420 tons and a maximum speed of 35 knots. They are armed with two 76/62 OTO MELARA canons, two 30mm EMERLEC cannons, two wire-guided SST-4 torpedoes and four ground-to-ground EXOCET MM 38 missiles. The whole armament was controlled by VEGA LN-II which has nowadays been replaced by TACTICOS. In September 2005 all four ships underwent Middle Life Upgrades which is still underway. Specifically, the four Fast Missile Ships are:

  1. HS LASKOS: it was commissioned on July 6, 1976 in Cherbourg (CO: Lieutenant Commander M. LOGOTHETIS) and it sailed to Greece on April 30, 1977. It was named "LASKOS" in honor of the late Commander B. LASKOS, killed in action during the sinking of the submarine KATSONIS on September 14, 1943.
  2. HS BLESSAS: it was commissioned on November 10, 1976 in Cherbourg (CO: Lieutenant Commander I. VOURAZERIS) and it sailed to Greece on July 18, 1977. It was named "BLESSAS" in honor of the late Lieutenant Commander G. BLESSAS, killed in action during the sinking of the B.OLGA after a german air raid on September 26, 1943.
  3. HS TROUPAKIS: it was commissioned on January 25, 1977 in Cherbourg (CO: I. ZOGRAFOS) and it arrived in Greece on November 26, 1977. It was named "TROUPAKIS" in honor of the late Commander S. TROUPAKIS, killed in action during the sinking of the submarine KATSONIS on September 14, 1943.
  4. HS MIKONIOS: it was commissioned on May 5, 1977 in Cherbourg (CO: Lieutenant Commander L. PALIOGIORGOS) and it arrived in Greece on February 16, 1978. It was named "MIKONIOS" in honor of the late Lieutenant S. MIKONIOS, lost on duty during the sinking of the submarine KATSONIS on September 14, 1943.

That same period, the Greek government signs a deal with the German government in the scope of the German military help for the acquisition of ten JAGUAR-class Fast Boats. 3 of them were delivered without engines as carriers. They were of German construction from 1956-1960, with a displacement of 190 tons and maximum speed of 42 knots. They were armed with two BOFORS 40/L-70 cannons and four 21-inch torpedo tubes. Seven (7) of them were given names of intense weather phenomena to propound their power and aggressiveness. Those 7 were:

  1. HS KATAIGIS. It was accepted on October 13, 1976 by Lieutenant Commander E. KSENAKIS. It arrived in Greece on November 24, 1976. It was destroyed due to a fire and was decommissioned on September 1980.
  2. HS TIPHON. It was accepted on October 13, 1976 by Lieutenant G. IOANIDES. It arrived in Greece on November 26, 1976.
  3. HS KIKLON. It was accepted on October 13, 1976 by Lieutenant Commander D. KALERGIS. It arrived in Greece on November 26, 1976.
  4. HS ESPEROS - HS LELAPS. They were transported to Greece and were commissioned on March 24, 1977. (COs: Lieutenant Commander K. CHARPANTIDES and Lieutenant A. KOUTSOTOLIS). They were decommissioned on December 21, 2004.
  5. HS SKORPIOS - HS KENTAVROS. They were transported to Greece and commissioned on May 21, 1977. (COs: Lieutenant A. KONTOS and Lieutenant D. KRISTALLIS). They were decommissioned on September 1, 1995.

The acquisition of a large number of Fast Boats resulted in the reconfiguration of the Fast Boat Command on July 18, 1977 which was then divided in three squadrons:

The squadron which consisted of the NASTY and JAGUAR-class Fast Boats with squadron commander the senior CO.
The first Squadron of 4 COMBATTANTE III-B-class Fast Missile Boats with squadron commander the senior CO.
The second Squadron of 4 COMBATTANTE II-class fast Missile Boats with an dedicated squadron commander.

Furthermore, the flotilla owns five Patrol Boats after the acquisition of Patrol Boat GOULANDRIS II followed by a new donation from shipyard "Neorion Syrou" on April 25, 1977.

1977 is another important year for the Fast Patrol Boats Command. On April 30, 1977 a contract was signed between the government and the company "HELLENIC SHIPYARDS A.E." for the construction of 6 more COMBATTANTE III-B-class Fast Missile Boats. The construction began in 1978 and finished near the end of 1981. The six ships are:

  1. HS KAVALOUDIS: Was launched on November 10, 1978 and the acceptance ceremony was held on July 14, 1980 (CO: Lieutenant Commander N. KATSAROS). It was named KAVALOUDIS in honor of Ensign M. KAVALOUDIS, killed in action during the sinking of submarine KATSONIS on September 14, 1943.
  2. HS KOSTAKOS: Was launched on March 1, 1980 and the acceptance ceremony was held on September 9, 1980 (CO: Lieutenant Commander I. IOANNOU). It was named KOSTAKOS in honor of Sub-Lieutenant I. KOSTAKOS who was killed in action during a German air raid in Malta on submarine GLAFKOS on February 27, 1942. It sank during a tragic accident when it collided with M/V EXPRESS SAMAINA while participating in the exercise PARMENION on November 4, 1996.
  3. HS NTEGIANNIS: Was launched on May 31, 1980 and the acceptance ceremony was held on November 11, 1980 (CO: Lieutenant Commander E. RAPANTZIKOS). It was named NTEGIANNIS in honor of Lietenant H. NTEGIANNIS who was executed by the Germans in Athens on June 19, 1943 because of his resistance to the German occupation
  4. HS XENOS: Was launched on September 8, 1980 and the acceptance ceremony was held on March 24, 1981 (CO: Lieutenant Commander D. MAGIATIS). It was named XENOS in honor of Ensign K. XENOS who was killed in action during the sinking of the submarine KATSONIS on September 14, 1943
  5. HS SIMITZOPOULOS: Was launched on December 15, 1980 and the acceptance ceremony was held on June 30, 1981 (CO: Lieutenant Commander Ch. KAZASIS). It was named SIMITZOPOULOS in honor of Ensign N. SIMITZOPOULOS who was killed in action during the sinking of Destroyer Vassilissa OLGA on September 26, 1943 as a result of a German air raid in Leros.
  6. HS STARAKIS: Was launched on May 5, 1981 and the acceptance ceremony was held on October 12, 1981 (CO: Lieutenant Commander N. MORAITAKIS). It was named STARAKIS in honor of Ensign V. STARAKIS who was killed in action during the sinking of the submarine TRITON on November 16, 1942 during WWII.

In 1978, three ABEKING-class air-salvors were added to the flotilla. Those were constructed in "HELLENIC SHIPYARDS". They were given names of flourishing ancient cities:

  1. HS DILOS: Commissioned on February 28, 1978.
  2. HS LINDOS: Commissioned on April 4, 1978.
  3. HS KNOSSOS: Commissioned on November 11, 1978.

In 1981, two more PB were acquired, HS PANAGOPOULOS II commissioned on January 13, 1981 and HS PANAGOPOULOS III commissioned on June 16, 1981. They were of the same class as HS PANAGOPOULOS I and were also donated by Eug. Panagopoulos.

On April 24, 1980 the command got its current name, Fast Patrol Boats Command. The introduction of 6 new Fast Missile Boats led to the creation of a new squadron of Fast Missile Boats, the Third Squadron, on July 9, 1981 with dedicated squadron commander. On January 23, 1982 a new PB was added to the flotilla, HS AGATHOS which was a donation by shipyards "ZEHS". It was named in honor of S. AGATHOS who was killed in action in Cypus on July 8, 1974 while on duty onboard FAETHON during a Turkish air raid.

On June 24, 1983 HS GOULANDRIS II was destroyed by fire and sank without casualties

In 1988 "HELLENIC SHIPYARDS" finished the construction of the first of a series of FV OSPREY-55 - class Gun ships with a displacement of 490 tons and a maximum speed of 23.7 knots. Their names are: HS NAVMACHOS, HS ARMATOLOS, HS PIRPOLITIS, HS POLEMISTIS. Furthermore, during the period of 1990-1991 two more Gun ships were received from the U.S.A. (HS ORMI, HS TOMLI) with a displacement of 240 tons and maximum speed of 21 knots. These six ships were handed over in 2002 to the Gunships Command.

The next years and in particular the period from 1994 to 1998, in the scope of German military help, six more S-148-class FGPGs were acquired. These ships are:

  1. HS VOTSIS: it was launched in 1972 in Germany. It was commisioned on February 15, 1994 and it became part of the flotilla on February 18, 1994 (CO: Lieutenant Commander P. ANTONIOU). It was named in honor of Lieutenant N. VOTSIS who, during the Balcan Wars of 1912-1913 sank the Turkish battleship FETIH BOULEND.
  2. HS PEZOPOULOS: it was launched in 1972 in Germany. It was commissioned on February 15, 1994 and it became part of the flotilla on February 18, 1994 (CO: Lieutenant Commander P. LITSAS). It was named in honor of Commander PEZOPOULOS who was killed in action while serving on HS YDRA, when it sank on April 22, 1941 due to a German air raid.
  3. HS MARIDAKIS: it was launched in 1973 in Germany. It was commissioned on March 30, 1995 and it became part of the flotilla on April 28, 1995 (CO: Lieutenant S. POLLALIS). It was named in honor of Lieutenant Commander MARIDAKIS who was killed in action while serving on PROTEFS, when it was sunk on December 29, 1940.
  4. HS VLACHAVAS: it was launched in 1973 in Germany. It was commissioned on March 30, 1995 and it became part of the flotilla on April 28, 1995 (CO: Lieutenant S. PETRAKIS). It was named in honor of Lieutenant Commander L. VLACHAVAS who was killed in action while serving on YDRA, when it was sunk on April 22, 1941. It was decommissioned on June 10, 2011.
  5. HS SAKIPIS: it was launched in 1973 in Germany. It was commissioned on March 30, 1995 and it became part of the flotilla on April 28, 1995 (CO: Lieutenant V. ASIMAKOPOULOS). It was named in honor of Lieutenant Commander A. SAKIPIS who was killed in action while serving on V.OLGA, when it was sunk on September 26, 1943 during a German air raid in Leros. It was decommissioned on June 10, 2011.
  6. HS TOURNAS: it was launched in 1973 in Germany. It was commissioned on March 30, 1995 and it became part of the flotilla on April 28, 1995 (CO: Lieutenant Ch. GIONIS). It was named in honor of Lieutenant A. SAKIPIS who was killed in action while serving on PROTEFS, when it was sunk on December 29, 1940. It was decommissioned on June 10, 2011.

In October 1998, the Greek Government ordered three new Fast Attack Craft-Missile Boats designed by English VOSPER THORNYCROFT with the cooperation of THALES, MBDA, RAMSYS, OTOBREDA, MTU, ZF and RR.

The contract was signed on January 7, 2000.

Furthermore, on August 28, 2008 the intent was raised from the Greek Government for two additional Fast Attack Craft-Missile Boats.

They have a displacement of 589 tons and maximum speed 34,25 knots and carry a 76/62 SUPER RAPIDO-OTOBREDA 76mm cannon, two SAFS 30mm cannons by OTOBREDA, 8 EXOCET MM-40 BLK2 MOD1 guided missiles, an anti-missile system (CIWS) GMWS RAM MK 31 BLK 1 with 21 guided missiles. They are:

  1. HS ROUSSEN: It was launched on November 12, 2002 and commissioned on December 19, 2005 (CO: Lieutenant Commander V. Griparis). It was named ROUSSEN after the late Lieutenant N. Roussen who was killed in action in the Middle East on April 22, 1944.
  2. HS DANIOLOS: It was launched on July 8, 2003 and commissioned on February 22 2006 (CO: Lieutenant Commander N. Kassimatis). It was named DANIOLOS after Lieutenant A. Daniolos who was killed in action on November 16, 1942 on the bridge of TRITON submarine near cape Kaforeas during an attack by the German submarine hunter Z-102.
  3. HS KRISTALLIDIS: It was launched on April 5, 2004 and commissioned on May 8, 2006 (CO: Lieutenant Commander D. Limberakis). It was named KRISTALLIDIS after Lieutenant V. Kristallidis who was killed in action on April 21, 1941 outside the port of Patra during a German stukas air raid while aboard and CO of PLEIAS.
  4. HS GRIGOROPOULOS: It was launched on December 20, 2005 (CO: Lieutenant Commander I. Tzifas). It was named GRIGOROPOULOS after Lieutenant N. Grigoropoulos who was killed in action on September 26, 1943 during a german air raid against Vassilissa OLGA in Leros.
  5. HS RITSOS: It was launched on October 9, 2006 (CO: Lieutenant Commander Ch. Michalitsis). It was named RITSOS after Lieutenant N. Ritsos who was killed in action on November 17, 1912 while his detachment was attacking the Turkish garrison on Chios.