On Monday, July 6, at the Naval Base of Salamis in a bright ceremony the Hellenic Navy welcomed to the Fleet and named the second General Support Ship, which was donated by the family of the President of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, Panos Laskaridis. The ceremony was attended by the President of the Republic Mrs. Aikaterini Sakellaropoulou, the President of the Hellenic Parliament Mr. Konstantinos Tasoulas, the former President of the Republic Mr. Prokopios Pavlopoulos, the Minister of National Defense Mr. Nikos Panagiotopoulos, the Chief of the Hellenic Defense General Staff General Konstantinos Floros, the Chief of the Navy General Staff Rear Admiral Stylianos Petrakis, the Chief of the Hellenic Fleet, Vice-Admiral Panayiotis Limberis and the Metropolitan of Megara and Salamis Mr. Konstantinos Giakoumakis, as well as a number of representatives of the civil and military leadership.

HS HERACLES, as the new ship was named, has a length of 85 meters and a displacement of 4,500 tons. It has two 9,600 horsepower propulsion engines, 2 main axle generators, 4 thrusters, (2 forward and 2 aft) in addition to the 2 main propulsion propellers. Its maximum speed is 15 knots, and it has a large carrying capacity of over 2,600 tons on its open deck and 4,000 tons in oil tanks. The new ship is of the same type as HS ATLAS I, a General Support Ship donated by the family of Mr. Panos Laskaridis to the Navy, that joined the Fleet officially last December.

The Minister of National Defense, Mr. Panagiotopoulos, welcomed the incorporation of HS HERACLES to the Fleet, saying that it is of particular importance for the Navy, as it comes to complete the recent incorporation of HS ATLAS I, thus modernizing, but also by substantially increasing the possibilities of the on-board support of the operational functions of our fleet “. He went on to say that “the Navy, as a key factor in the strength of the country’s Armed Forces and one of the strongest in the Mediterranean, guarantees sovereignty in both the Aegean and the wider region. And it makes the country a strong ally for friends, but also a threat to potential opponents, giving credibility and weight to the country’s role in the region’s international developments. ” Mr. Panagiotopoulos announced the awarding by Presidential Decree of the rank of Honorary Rear Admiral to Mr. Panos Laskaridis, in recognition of his contribution from the State. The awarding of the title was made by SA President of the Republic Mrs. Aikaterini Sakellaropoulou. The Minister awarded Mr. Laskaridis the Commemoration of the Star of Value and Honor, “because as co-founder and President of the Aikaterini Laskaridis Foundation, during the long period of economic hardship that the Greek state has been going through, he is contributing with rare determination, inspiration and generosity to the improvement of the Hellenic Navy operational capabilities, while covering many other serious needs of the Hellenic Navy and Coastguard”

Deeply moved, Mr. Laskaridis thanked him warmly for the honor and promised to continue his support to the Navy. In his speech, Mr. Laskaridis noted that “this is a great day for me and my family, because the Navy allows me once again after a few months, to be here and to attend another accession ceremony to the Fleet. Our new ship, HS HERACLES, together with the previous one, HS ATLAS , in my opinion and in the opinion of our Navy, will provide our Fleet with more opportunities to do its job more efficiently and in a better way. ” He went on to say, “The country is in a difficult situation today. It has to face an aggressive, provocative and revisionist neighbor. We all need to think about what we all need to do to meet and counter this challenge. Because our leaders, our governments, we ourselves, all together, will not be judged by whether we have succeeded in overcoming the COVID-19 or the national economy crisis. We will be judged by whether we have managed to fully defend our national rights.”

The Chief of General Staff, General Konstantinos Floros, in his greeting for the new ship said that “it bears the name of the ancient mythical hero Hercules, the greatest hero of Greek mythology, which in the minds of our people and worldwide, is synonymous with insurmountable courage and unrivaled power. The choice of the name was obviously not accidental, since the donated ship has, among other characteristics, the ability to carry a large load of heavy-duty materials and fuel for replenishment at sea, to tow large ships, while its extremely accurate “immobilization stabilization” system provides for the capability to support underwater operations under any weather conditions in support of the Fleet’s operational needs. This breadth and range of missions demonstrates both the great value and the importance of the donation since the conduct of naval operations depends on the existence of appropriate means. As naval operations depend on the availability of appropriate means to play the multifaceted role of supporting the Navy’s combat units, the addition of the General Support Ship HS ATLAS I last December, and now of HS HERACLES, is of paramount importance».

The Chief of General Staff, Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis, pointed out that “Greece is a naval nation and the Navy can only be at the core of national power in order to defend national interests, protect  maritime areas and promote wider geopolitical interests. The success of the modernization efforts of the Fleet’s units is a necessary precondition for the Navy to maintain the ability to successfully deal with the ever-increasing number of challenges that our geopolitical environment breeds. The fact that we are currently maintaining the fighting force and are able to effectively prevent any hostile and aggressive action does not mean that this capability can be maintained in perpetuity without renewal, upgrading and acquisition of new modern units. “

HS ATLAS I and HS HERACLES both are new ships, built to carry out support missions to oil rigs on the high seas. Their building specifications are excellent and their design has been done with operational flexibility in mind. These ships can carry heavy tanks and combat and support vehicles, cranes, heavy constructions and containers with configuration and capabilities depending on the needs of each mission, while having the ability of DP2 (Dynamic Positioning), ie exact keeping of position and heading under any weather conditions. These ships will be used in refueling missions of the Fleet’s units, as well as for transporting cargo, towing, rescuing shipwrecks, diving and lifting objects from the sea with exceptional precision and firefighting. In addition, they are able to operate as a submarine rescue platform, something the Navy has not had until today.

On Thursday, July 2, HS ATLAS I and HS HERACLES participated in operational training, where they coordinated and successfully performed exercises of refuelling, towing, transfer at sea and other operations together with Frigate HS AEGEAN, Fast Patrol Boat HS RITSOS and a Navy Seahawk helicopter. It should be noted that HS AEGEAN has also benefitted from a Panos Laskridis donation, having participated last year in the program “KYKNOS” in the context of which her four electric generators were replaced with new ones. The operational training was attended by the Chief of Navy General Staff, Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis, and the Fleet Commander, Vice Admiral Panagiotis Lymperis.

Operational training with HS ATLAS I and HS HERACLES