Amphibious Operations Command

Amphibious Operations Command

Mission:

"To act within the limits of the commands and directions of the Fleet Headquarters, in order to organize, command, operationally train, monitor maintenance and readiness and to prepare in general the ships and services for war, in order to contribute to the success of the mission or the tasks entrusted by the Chief of the fleet".

 

Organization

Commander of CAF is Captain B. Asimakopoylos .

Under the CAF command fall the amphibious  vessels (landships, fast transportation ships) and smaller landing crafts, in accordance with the operational plans and the orders issued by the leadership The CAF, falls through its commandant, to the Chief of the fleet.

 

History

INTRODUCTION

The CAF, ships and staff, even from the integration of the first landship in the Greek fleet , participated in all the historic moments of the fights of the nation and the Hellenic Navy demonstrating the same mental strength and self-denial as all of the the Greek people did. It is therefore understandable why  the CAF deserves pro rata that space in the gold pages of the Hellenic naval history.

 

AMPHIBIOUS OPERATIONS DURING THE MODERN GREEK HISTORY

Concerning the amphibious operations during the modern Greek history we can divide them in the following four historic periods:
 

a. Period 1884-1919

The first ships used for landing operations,  as reffered to the recent history of Greece was the "ACHELOOS", "ALFIOS", "EVROTAS", "PINIOS" and "ATHINAI" which were used mainly as troop ships. The first four of them were built in Blackwall between 1884 and 1885 and took part in the wars of Crete in 1897 and in the Balkan wars in 1912-1913.
The "ALFIOS" participated in the disembarkation of the expeditionary corps of Colonel T. Vasou at the Kolimpari area of Chania in February of 1897 and in April of the same year at the Leptokaria area. On the 6th of May arrested the Austro-Hungarian steamboat "MINERVA". The remaining period until the 1919 belonged to the division of the Ionian Sea. Then it was delivered to the Hydrographic Service and used until its decommissioning (1936). The "ATHINAI" was one of the merchant ships which was requisioned in order to assist the attempts of the above naval vessels of amphibian war. It was used repeatedly during the Balkan wars in 1912-1913. After the cessation of the war, it was given back to its owners and later it sunk near the coast of America due to fire.

Other merchant ships which were requisioned during the Balkan wars were the "MAKEDONIA", "MIKALI", "ARKADIA", "THEMISTOKLIS" and ESPERIA". These ships were refitted in order to be appropriate for troopship and transport operations and staffed with crews and officers of the Navy who formed the division  of cruisers.

 

b. Period 1919-1940

On 26th May 1919  the Greek expeditionary corps disembarked in Izmir, consisting  of the forth and fifth infantry regiment and from 18 troopships of the Greek Navy. On 26th August 1922 due to the evacuation of Izmir all Greek ships sailed away. In this period, the widespread use of merchant ships for landing operations becomes apparent. In 1937, the General Staff of Hellenic Navy orders the inspection of all merchant ships in service and the appointed staff officers calculated and determined the transportation feasibility of these commercial ships which gradually were supplied with the necessary equipment to conuct military transportations of components (such us  scales, zones for loading animals etc.) investigating the needs for mounting the equipment.

 

 c. Period 1940-1945

Characteristic of this period was the acquisition of the first landships by the Navy. The first landships were acquired from the US Navy and was the "HS SAMOS" with Commander Lapas as Commanding Officer , "HS LIMNOS" with Lieutenant Commander Kallergis as Commanding Officer, "HS LESVOS" with Lieutenant Commander Zarpas as Commanding Officer and "HS CHIOS". The first three sailed from England on the 28th November 1943 and reached the Mediterranean sea in mid-December, while the forth sailed on the 25th December 1943 and arrived in the Mediterranean sea a month later.

Unfortunately the HS LESVOS on the 6th January 1944 during the voyage from England to Bizerta, which was its basis, run aground because of bad weather at islet "PLANE" and then was abandoned because the detachment was impossible. The other landships took part in many and various transportation missions but the most significant mission during WWII from their integration in the Hellenic Navy was their participation in landing operation at Angio. The HS SAMOS AND LIMNOS participated from the first day of the operation which was the 21st January 1944, while the HS CHIOS later and after their initial landing operation, executed mission of transportation of forces from Naples to Angio. Due to the excellent activity of these ships the Rear Admiral Alexandris wrote: "These ships during this operation demonstrated the same impetuosity, dexterity and warfare spirit which characterises the Hellenic navy in all its operations".

 Another important mission was their participation in the landing operations at South of France by transferring troops, vehicles, means of landing operations and every kind war material. From the 15th of August to the 12th September 1944 the three (3) landships moved actively transferring material and troops to different ports of the landing area for the replenishment of the landing force. In April of 1944 the HS LIMNOS took part in transportations for the replenishment of the Allied Forces which had disembarked at island VIS of the Dalmatian coast. In July of 1944, the HS LIMNOS during its voyage from Angio towards Barleta, accompanied by the English Black Swan, hit a mine having as result the injury of three people and small material damage. After ten days of repairs in Palermo departed for Oran, in order to participate in the operations of South France.

Finally, on the 15th October 1944 with the arrival of the fleet in Greece the HS SAMOS and HS CHIOS arrived at the port of Poros island, coming from Taranta and carrying vehicles  and other motor means, as well as parts of the English army, which were disembarked  in Kalamaki and Piraeus. Respectively, the HS Limnos arrived the previous day to the Poros Island, coming from Alexandria.

 

 d. Period 1945 until today

During the period of 1945-46, the Greek navy acquired six Landing Ship Tanks by the British Navy, the AXIOS, the ALIAKMON, the PINIOS, the STRIMON, the ALFIOS and the ACHELOOS, which were returned to Britain during the period 1959-1964. The aforementioned vessels, with three Existing American landships, during the civil war accomplished a large number of missions since the maritime transportations of military forces and supplies gave the solution to the problem of the era which was, the almost impossible and time-consuming overland transportation because of mined areas,   ambushes and the destruction of the bridges of the road and rail network, wherever it existed. Also, whenever during the operations there was a need for quick transportation of large military units from a war place to another, the transportation was always  executed by sea with speed, security and the most important without losses. The maritime transportations of army which took place during 1948 and 1949 included: 251.000 men, 22.000 animals, 18.000 vehicles, 85.000 tones material, 46.000 tones of ammunition and 210 fire arms. The total of miles and hours, afloat made each ship during the period 1947-1950 was overall 35.921 hours and 326.928 miles.

During the period 1946-1948, thirteen small landing raid vessels ( Landing Craft Attack )  were acquired, as a loan, which were used at landing missions and for the training of commando. These vessels were returned to British Navy during 1959-1960. In 1953, the Hellenic navy strengthened the small fleet of landing ships with the acquisition of HS NAFKRATOYSA, a ship of LSD type ( Landing Ship Dock ). This purchase of the Greek Navy came from the surplus of WWII.

The offer of landing ships in urgent needs of the country such as during the period of the earthquakes of the Ionian islands was important. In 1958 and while the Hellenic navy had started to return the British landships, named by some rivers and the thirteen small landships (type LCA) , acquired six (6) American ferry vessels of type LSM ( Landing Ship Medium ), the GRIGOROPOYLOS, the KRISTALIDIS, the ROUSSEN, the DANIOLOS, the TOYRNAS and the MERLIN. All of the above vessels have been decommissioned. An exception to this is the ferry vessel MERLIN which on the 15th  November 1972 after a violent collission with the giant supertanker "World Hero” sank within a few minutes, 3 nm south from the port of Piraeus taking to the liquid grave 44 people.

In 1960 three landships of type "Class 511" were were acquired from the US Navy and specifically the HS RODOS, HS IKARIA and  AS LESVOS. The story of the HS LESVOS during the Turkish invasion in Cyprus is known. The ship was ordered after its departure from Cyprus, transferring men of the Hellenic force in Cyprus, who were replaced, to return and put them ashore in Paphos, with risk of being strafed by the Turkish Air Force. The Captain Lieutenant Commander Chandrinos led the ship to Paphos and disembarked  the staff of Hellenic force in Cyprus, helping at the same time the artillery of the ship in order to stifle the resistance of Turkish Cypriots and improve the control of the region by the Cypriot. Then, after estimating the risk by the Turkish Air Force, followed South course towards the Libyan coasts, misleading the Turks who had come to search for the ship. Afterwards, he reversed and moving west it returned to Greece. The result of these movements was the confusion of the Turks and the sinking of the Turkish KOCATEPE which was thought as Greek and responsible for the episode of Paphos.

In 1964 and 1971 the last landships of type "Class 511" were received from the American navy, which were named SYROS  and CRETE. All the landships of type "Class 511" today have been decommissioned and the landship SYROS after being repaired in the naval yard of Crete in 2000, returned to the U.S.A. on its own engine power with crew members being the veterans of the US Navy., where it is transformed to a museum.

In 1971 the HS NAFKRATOYSA was acquired in order to replace the old one with the same name, which was decommissioned in 2000. In 1977 the last acquisition of landships from the US Navy took place. Two landships of type "Class Terebone Parish" were received in the March of 1977 and being pulled entered the Naval yard on the 11th  June 1977. These are the HS KOS and HS INOYSAI which were repaired and activated in August and December of the same year respectively. In parallel with the  acquisition of the two landships, the decommissioning of the HS LIMNOS, HS CHIOS and HS SAMOS took place.

 

 

THE LATEST DEVELOPMENTS

 The Hellenic Navy currently operates five conventional landships of type "JASON" which were built in Hellenic shipbuilding yards (the first one was received in 1944 and the last one in 2000) and three hovercrafts of type "ZUBR", which have given new operational capabilities in the field of amphibian operations.

 

a. LANDSHIPS OF TYPE SAMOS
On the 6th March 1985 the Council for Foreign Affairs and Defense of the Government approved the building of five new landships ype SAMOSin order to replace the old ones that were constructed in 1944. .The Hellenic Navy on the 15th May 1986 signed with Elefsis shipyards the first contract guide for the execution of the project. This contract was followed by four other individual contracts completed with relative tables with additional work and materials covering respective areas and details of the whole construction project. The design study of the construction of the vessels was a result of cooperation between the Navy and Elefsis shipyards, assisted on a  case-by-case basis by of the  National Technical University of Athens and other various Greek and foreign houses of studies.

(1) HS SAMOS (L-174)

The HS SAMOS is the second landship which was launched and the first which was delivered to the Hellenic navy. Inegration i in the fleet was accomplished on the 20th  May 1994 with Commander M. KAPSALAS as the Commanding Officer.

(2) HS CHIOS (L-173)

The construction of the HS CHIOS which is the first landship that was launched but the second which was delivered  to the Hellenic Navy, began on the 4th February 1987 by cutting the laminas. The positioning of the keel on the 15th April 1988 followed and then the launch on the 16th December 1988. The Greek flag was raised and the ship was delivered to the Hellenic Navy on the 30th May 1996 with Commander G. DOYNIS as  the Commanding Officer.

 

 

(3) HS IKARIA (L-175)

The construction of the HS IKARIA which is the forth landship that was launched and delivered to the Hellenic navy, began on the 15th May 1986 by cutting the laminas. The positioning of the keel on the 1st July 1989 followed and then the launch on the 22nd October 1998. The Greek flag was raised on the 6th October 1999 and the ship was delivered to  the Hellenic Navy on the 24th January 2000 with Commander BASTAS as the Commanding Officer.

 

 (4) HS LESVOS (L-176)

The construction of the HS LESVOS which is the third landship that was launched and delivered at Hellenic navy, began on the 15th May 1986 by cutting the laminas. The positioning of the keel on the 1st July 1989 followed and then the launch on the 5th July 1990. The Greek flag was raised on the 25th February 1999 and the ship delivered to the Hellenic Navy on the 18th May 1999 with Commander K. KOKOLAKI as the Commanding Officer.

 

(5) HS RODOS (L-177)

The HS RODOS is the fifth landship which was launched and delivered to the Hellenic Navy. The launch of the ship executed on the 6th October 1999 while the raising of the Greek flag and the inclusion in the fleet took place in on the 30th May 2000 with Commander N. KALATZOPOYLOS asthe Commanding Officer.

 

b.SHIPS OF TYPE KEFALLHNIA

The Fast Transport Ships of type ΚΕΦΑΛΛΗΝΙΑ (Russian name ZUBR – NATO name POMORNIK ) is now the largest in size hovercraft landing vessels (Air-Cushion Landing Craft) in the world and they are the forth generation of hovercraft vessels. Four vessels of this type have joined in the Hellenic navy.

(1) HS KEFALLHNIA (L-180)

HS KEFALLHNIA is the first vessel which was received by the Hellenic navy. Its origin and design is Russian in accordance with the program 12322 No 104. It was built in 1993 in the yard of the company ALMAZ of Saint Petersburg and given to Russian Navy in 1994 with the number 717. In 2000 a contract was signed between the Greek and the Russian side which said that all the systems of the vessel would be repaired with main alterations in oil cooling systems of main engines, adding two additional air conditioning systems and two converters of electrical power. From October to November of 2000 harbor trials and sea trials were conducted in Saint Petersburg of Russia. The official receipt of the ship by the Hellenic Navy and the raising of the Greek flag was on the 22nd  January 2001 with Lieutenant Commander CH. ZISIMOPOYLO as a Commanding Officer.

(2) HS ITHAKI (L-181)

HS ITHAKI is the second vessel received by the Hellenic navy. Its origin and design is Ukranian and was built in 1992 in the yard of the company MORYE in Theodosia of Ukraine. In 2000 a contract was signed between the Greek and the Ukrainian side. From October 2000 to January 2001 harbor trials and sea trials of the vessel were conducted at Theodosia of Ukraine. The official receipt of the ship by the Hellenic Navy and the raising of the Greek flag was on the 2nd March 2001 at Salamis naval base with Lieutenant Commander G. TATAKO as a Commanding Officer.

(3) HS ZAKINTHOS (L-183)

HS ZAKINTHOS is the third vessel received by the Hellenic navy.  Its origin and design is Russian in accordance with the program 12322 No 107. Its construction started in August 2000 in the yard of the company ALMAZ of Saint Petersburg and it was launched in May 2001. Its arrival in Greece took place in September 2001. Its inclusion in the Hellenic navy and the raising of the Greek flag took place on the 5th October 2001 Lieutenant M. Tsenebi as a Commanding Officer. It was decommissioned on the 12th  May 2010 with last Commanding Officer the Lieutenant Commander A. Aktipi.

 (4) HS KERKYRA (L-182)

HS KERKYRA is the forth vessel received by the Hellenic navy.  Its origin and design is Russian in accordance with the program 12322. Its construction started in 2003 in the yard of the company ALMAZ of Saint Petersburg and it was launched on the 25th June 2004. Its arrival in Greece took place on the 22nd December 2004. Its inclusion in the Hellenic navy and the raising of the Greek flag took place on the 4th January 2005 with Lieutenant I. KOYPLAKI as a Commanding Officer.

Landship Vessels

HS CHIOS (L 173)

CREST

The ship’s  crest demonstartes an anchor at the top and left side and the map of Chios island with a navy vane at the bottom and right side.

Characteristics

Dimensions: 116/15,3/3,4 meters

Displacement: 4.400 tones

Propulsion: 2 WARTSILA 16V25 diesel 10000hp

Speed: 16 Knots

Complement: 120

Armament: 1 OTO MELARA 76/62 GUN , 2 TWIN ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS BOFORS 40L/70, 2 ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS RHEINMETALL 20 MM

Transportation Capacity: 22 tanks, 287 marines , vehicles, jeeps and firearms depending on the transport operation requirements, and a deck suitable for transferring one helicopter.

It is one of the five landships constructed at Elefsis shipyards after  the order of the Ministry of Defense. It was launched on the 16th December 1988 and delivered to the Hellenic Navy on the 30th of May with Commander G. Doynis as its first Commanding Officer.

 

HS IKARIA

The ship’s crest  demostrates an anchor at the top and left side and the map of IKARIA and FOYRNOI islands with a navy vane at the bottom and right side.

Characteristics

Dimensions: 116/15,3/3,4 meters

Displacement:: 4.400 tones

: 2 WARTSILA 16V25 diesel 10000hp

Speed: 16 Knots

Complement: 120

Armament: 1 OTO MELARA 76/62 GUN , 2 TWIN ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS BOFORS 40L/70, 2 ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS RHEINMETALL 20 MM

 Transportation Capacity: 22 tanks, 287 marines , vehicles, jeeps and firearms depending on the transport operation requirements, and a deck suitable for transferring one helicopter.It is one of the five landships constructed at Elefsis shipyards after the order of the Ministry of Defense . It was launched on the 22nd October 1998 and delivered to the Hellenic Navy on the 6th October 1999 with first Commanding OfficeCommander ommander A. Bastas.

 

HS LESVOS

The ship’s crest demostrates an anchor at the top and left side and the map of LESVOS island with a navy vane at the bottom and right side.

Characteristics

Dimensions: 116/15,3/3,4 meters

Displacement: 4.400 tones

Propulsion: 2 WARTSILA 16V25 diesel 10000hp

Speed: 16 Knots

Complement120

Armament: 1 OTO MELARA 76/62 GUN , 2 TWIN ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS BOFORS 40L/70, 2 ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS RHEINMETALL 20 MM

 Transportation Capacity: 22 tanks, 287 marines, vehicles, jeeps and firearms depending on the transport operation requirements, and a deck suitable for transferring one helicopter.It is one of the five landships constructed at the Elefsis shipyard after the order of the Ministry of Defense. It was launched on the 5th July 1990 and was delivered to the Hellenic navy on the 26th  February 1999 with Commander K. Kokolakis as its first Commanding Officer.

 

HS RODOS

The ship’screst depicts an anchor at the top and left side and the map of RODOS island with a navy vane at the bottom and right side.

Characteristics

Dimensions: 116/15,3/3,4 meters

Tonnage: 4.400 tones

Main machines: 2 WARTSILA 16V25 diesel 10000hp

Speed: 16 Knots

Crew: 120

Armament: 1 OTO MELARA 76/62 GUN , 2 TWIN ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS BOFORS 40L/70, 2 ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS RHEINMETALL 20 MM

 Transportation Capacity: 22 tanks, 287 marines, vehicles, jeeps and firearms depending on the transport operation requirements, and a deck suitable for transferring one helicopter.It is one of the five landships constructed  at Elefsis shipyards after the order of the Ministry of Defense. It was launched on the 6th October 1999 and delivered to the Hellenic navy in May 2000 with Commander N. Kalatzopoylos as its first Commanding Officer.

HS SAMOS

The ship’s  crest demonstrates  an anchor at the top and left side and the map of SAMOS island with a navy vane at the bottom and right side.

Characteristics

Dimensions: 116/15,3/3,4 meters

Displacement: 4.400 tones

Propulsion: 2 WARTSILA 16V25 diesel 10000hp

Speed: 16 Knots

Complement: 120

Armament: 1 OTO MELARA 76/62 GUN , 2 TWIN ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS BOFORS 40L/70, 2 ANTI-AIRCRAFT GUNS RHEINMETALL 20 MM

Transportation Capacity:  Transportation Capacity: 22 tanks, 287 marines , vehicles, jeeps and firearms depending on the transport operation requirements, and a deck suitable for transferring one helicopter. It is the first of the five landships constructed at the Elefsis shipyards after the order of the Ministry of Defense. The landships of this type have been designed in Greece in cooperation with the National Technical University of Athens and Elefsina shipyards.  It was launched on the 29th September 1987 and delivered to the Hellenic Navy on the 20th May 1994 with Commander M. Kapsalas as its first Commanding Officer.

Amphibious Operations Command
Former Commandants of CAF