• Energy-Savings Basics For The Maritime Industry – Renewable Energy

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    AMVER Awards 2013

    The IGMS-GrC board attended the 2013 AMVER Awards ceremony in Athens’ Intercontinental Hotel, organized by the International Propeller Club of the United States, International Port of Piraeus in co-operation with the United States Embassy in Greece, the USCG, as well as the Hellenic  Coast Guard.

  • Energy-Savings Basics For The Maritime Industry – Engines, Machinery, Alternative Fuels

  • New Technologies and the Potential for Ship Overall Efficiency Optimization-SNAME

    Several IGMS-GrC members attended the second technical meeting for the 2013-2014 season of the Greek Section of The Society of Naval Architects and Marine Engineers (SNAME), during which Michael Triantafyllou, Professor of Mechanical and Ocean Engineering, Director at the Center for Ocean Engineering and Head of the area of Ocean Science & Engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), spoke on the subject of: “New Technologies and the Potential for Ship Overall Efficiency Optimization’’ The event took place at the Maran Tankers Inc. auditorium

  • The Hellenic Navy through the centuries

    THE HELLENIC NAVY THROUGH THE CENTURIES

    By Dimitris Kokkinos

    The Greek war navy is a unique naval case in the world, in that it has the longest history in the smallest sea space. The history of the Greek war navy is 4000 year old, but the sea space in which this navy operated and still operates is a sea area approximately 400 sea miles long and 200 sea miles wide studded by about 3000 large and small islands and called the Aegean Sea. Command of this sea was and is the principal mission of the Greek war navy, the Hellenic Navy.
    This Aegean Sea is packed with History. The Trojan War happened there, Salamis sea battle was fought there, the Arabs and Byzantines clashed there, Actium and Lepanto happened near by, the Greek War of Independence was decided there, the sea side of the Balkan wars was fought there, the Dardanelles and Gallipoli campaigns of the F.W.W. unfolded there, Matapan and the Battle of Crete took place there in the S.W.W. and during the cold war the Aegean was the last defense to stop the Soviet Navy from challenging the control of the Mediterranean Sea.
    It is the story of a navy that had to transform continuously itself and develop its technology as geopolitics changed and as Greece changed with the Centuries. Most of the great questions that occupy the thoughts of today’s Naval Men were addressed at some points of its history in this small sea area and constitute today textbook cases. Naval architecture and naval technology played an equally important role to that of the sea men that rowed, sailed, steamed and gas-turbined on and under its waters.
    The story starts at 2000 B.C. with the Cretan naval empire. Crete was so secure with its navy that its rich cities were not fortified.
    The Cretan navy exercised command in the Aegean and protected the sea lanes around Crete that brought to Crete copper from Cyprus, timber from Lebanon and the rich goods of Egypt. It also kept under control the Aegean vassal islands and shores that paid tribute to Crete as far as Athens and beyond.
    Warships were about 50 ft long, slender (1:8 ratio), were rowed by usually 30 men and had one trapezoidal sail in square rig that aided navigation when the wind was near at the beam and aft.
    In the beginning of the second millennium B.C. sea engagements were decided by boarding. In the frescoes of Thera, an island of the Aegean, we see for the first time the long lances that were used to clear the deck before boarding the enemy ship (1711 century B.C.).Those lances, over 30 ft long and mentioned by Homer five centuries later as the ‘ship fighting lances’ are the first truly naval weapon.
    Seeing those beautiful, slim ships, their lines plan superbly reconstructed by Professor Thomas C. Gillmer, of US Naval Academy (Ret), the warriors and rowers painted on them, it is easy to understand the principal mission of that navy: projection of military power. This is also the story of the Trojan War. Homer describes in detail the 1200 ship fleet that transported about 80.000 Greek warriors to besiege Troy.
    The “black ships” that Homer describes were carrying each from 120 soldiers – rowers the biggest to 30 soldiers – rowers the smallest. Without this navy the mighty Troy would have continued to control the Hellespont and Bosporus straights, which are the gates to the Aegean, restricting Greek commerce with the Black Sea.
    In the beginning of the first millennium the standard capital warship was the penteconter, a fifty oared ship in a single bank of oars. It was at that time that the second naval weapon emerged. The ram. This weapon completely differentiated warship from merchant vessels and this is the begging of naval tactics.
    The ram evolved into a stout projection in the bow, just under the waterline, strongly connected with the hull and from the 7th century B.C. bronze seathed. The change in naval tactics from boarding to ramming affected naval architecture. Rapid maneuvering was the principal requirement and the over 120 ft long pentecontor of 25 tons displacement was superseded by the shorter 50 oared double banked pentecontor, which with its 60 ft length and 15 tons displacement could out-turn the longer ship and ram it on the side.
    But gigantism and horse power increase is not a phenomenon of our time. Soon, a more seaworthy and more powerful warship was designed. The hundred oared double banked bireme. Strength considerations with the materials of the time, cedar and pine, could not allow for longer than 120 ft ships. Speed needed more rowers and the ram needed their muscles to catch the enemy’s ship and smash its sides. By the late 8th century the final type emerged.
    The one man equivalent of today Buships, the Corinthian Naval Architect Ameinokles, designed, first in Greece, the most renowned type of war vessel of Antiquity and a classic of all times: the Trireme, a three banked, 170 oar ship, displacing 48 tons with a L.O.A. of 125 ft and max beam of 18 ft. It had a 9.5 knot ramming speed.
    How difficult was to design and fit into the ship given the length limitations, a third line of rowers was understood only recently when the work of Morisson and Coates in 1960-1970 correctly interpreted the archeological evidence and solved the mystery.
    Athens is the first Democracy on record to vote for resources allocation to create a major fleet. The roots of the Athenian naval empire were in the mines of Lavrion. Themistocles, persuaded the Athenians not to use the income from the silver mines for public consumption, but to built and maintain an expensive fleet.
    This commitment to a 180 trireme strong navy of the Athenians was the basis of victory in Salamis. The battle is very well known to need description here. What is less known was that the defense of Thermopylae before the Salamis Battle was possible because the Greek Navy protected the sea flank of the Spartans from the Persian fleet, which otherwise would have disembarked troops behind the Spartan lines.
    Alexander the Great used the fleet without love for it. After the fleet covered his landings on Asia Minor in his Persian Campaign, Alexander, short of funds and human resources, sent it back to Greece. He did however implement a naval strategy. By conquering by land the seashore cities of Asia Minor, refused to the Persian fleet the bases that were absolutely necessary for the Persian vessels to command the Aegean Sea and to move swiftly troops from what is today modern Lebanon to the Aegean shores of Asia Minor and cut his communications from the rear.
    With the decline of Greek cities, the Romans conquered Greece. The Eastern Roman Empire became gradually the Greek dominated Byzantine Empire with Constantinople (modern Istanbul) the new capital at the northern gates of the Aegean Sea. A new navy with a new type of ship was required to protect the capital and keep the sea lanes open for trade. This new type of ship that emerged in the 6th century A.D. and could take longer missions was called dromon.
    Dromon was an approximately 170ft long, double banked, oared ship without a ram, of about 150 tons displacement that had masts and lateen sails. It had a much greater radius of action than the trireme since its triangular sails gave it a sailing ability at more points of the compass and resting ashore the rowers at night was not necessary.
    This tall protected ship had a strong forecastle and a poop castle and sometimes a middle castle on which catapults and ballistae were installed to give it the possibility of engaging the enemy at a maximum distance of 100 yards. That was the third naval weapon in history.
    The Arabs, the emerging Islamic force in the area, could build ships almost as good as the dromons and had masses of people to man them. The Byzantine Empire, as any empire, could not waste in engagements of attrition its human and material resources. Superior technology was then as now the answer and it came with the new naval weapon, Greek fire from 670 A.D. onwards.
    Greek Fire is an oil based liquid that was pumped and ignited through a siphon located mainly in the bow, like a modern flame thrower, or could be thrown enclosed in a clay container by a catapult, like a modern Molotov cocktail. In 672 A.D. dromons with Greek fire defeated the Moslem fleet in the Battle of Cyzicus near Constantinople and again in 717 A.D. in the Sea of Marmara inside Bosporus.
    Four dromons only burned the Russian fleet of small vessels when it threatened Constantinople in 941A.D. In a continuous struggle from the sixth to the tenth century with the Arabs, the Byzantine fleet kept mastery of most of the Aegean Sea by Greek fire. Crete fell in 825 A.D. to Islam, which profited the ninth century internal power struggles of the Greeks and the decline of their navy. The Byzantines then understood that without a navy the empire would be lost. Between 880 and 960 A.D. a reformed Byzantine Navy regained control of the Aegean Sea and re-conquered the strongly fortified Crete.
    The decline of Byzantine Empire led to the ottoman conquest of Greece in 15th century A.D. Greeks were and are a sea race. The Ottoman occupation could not stop them from sailing ships, this vital instrument in their survival. From the 17th century onwards a Greek merchant navy was reborn and the Greek islands even provided the sailors for the Ottoman Navy. That was the first school for the future Independence navy in Greece. The biggest school however were the Tripoli pirates. Greeks had to arm their merchant vessels to stand up to them. The type of ship that emerged was a two to three masted merchant brig usually with 12-20 guns, 9-12 pounders, on the deck.
    The finishing touches to the naval education of the Greek Navy, prior to the war of Independence in 1821, were given by Nelson, who was blockading the French Mediterranean ports. Greek vessels were blockade runners. As the British used to hang blockade runners, the Greeks had an, additional to profit, incentive to design very fast, tall masted ships, which they learned to sail to the limits of stability.
    During the Independence War, if the Ottomans could move troops by sea the war would be lost. Greeks could fight the Ottoman army in the mountains, but massive troop movement by the sea would have quenched the revolt.
    The Greek war navy was constituted by the merchant fleets (mainly Grain brigs) of the Greek islands under the flagships of their shipowner – captains who also provided the funds of the fleet. Greek ships were smaller and could outsail and outmaneuver the Ottoman two and three decked ships of the line, but could not win a definite naval history. Greek gunnery was both in caliber and in training. The ship owners allowed enough training only to fight pirates, for reasons of cost, and not enough to fight the greatest sea power in the Eastern Mediterranean. This is a lesson for those that economize on live training today. Technology came to the rescue again. The Greeks introduced fire ships in the struggle. The fire ship was a small two masted ship that had been filled inside with tar, resin, alcohol, turpentine and brushwood and carried half casks filed with powder on top of which fire balls made with coarse powder, saltpeter and sulfur were stashed. A powder line was leading from the insides of the ships to the wheel post at the stern where a charcoal brazier was burning.
    A crew of twenty would approach the enemy ship of the line, preferably at night, throw grapnels to secure the fire ship next to the wind side of the enemy vessel and set fire to it by throwing the embers of the brazier to the powder line, escaping by rowing in the ‘salvation boat’.
    The fire ships checked the Ottoman fleet and stopped free troop movement. The Greek Navy did not win the war of Independence. When the Egyptian Navy joined the Ottoman Navy, the Greek Navy could just keep fighting. The war ended when the joint fleets of Britain, France and Russia destroyed the combined Ottoman and Egyptian fleet in Navarino in 1828. But the Greek Navy by refusing the Aegean Sea lines to the enemy, kept the struggle on for eight years, for West to decide to intervene. It also secured another technological first. The first steamship in the world that actually fought in sea battles. The British built paddle steamer schooner “Karteria” of twin 80 HP engines and 223 tons displacement armed with eight 68 lbs Paixans guns fought a flotilla and won again near Salamis.
    When Greece became a state, the Hellenic Navy was reconstituted with the Boston built Frigate Hellas as its flagship. Although the first naval cadet school was established in 1827, it was a difficult transition. The revolution fighters, owners-captains, could not accept easily the discipline of an officer corps. The first mission of the New Hellenic Navy was to wipe out piracy in the Aegean Sea and in this it was successful. It took however fifty years for the navy to shape up to a professionally run navy with officers and petty officers trained in Naval Cadet schools.
    In the beginning of the 20th century the clouds of war were once again filling the air of the crumbling Ottoman Empire. Greece, Bulgaria, Serbia and Montenegro formed a war alliance. This would succeed only if the Aegean Sea lanes were refused to the Ottoman troop carrying ships, which was the mission of the Greek Navy. Greece had ordered in 1909 a pre-dreadnought, the “George Averoff” of 10.000 tons displacement 23,9 knot trials’ speed, four 9,2 inch guns and eight 7,5 inch guns.
    It was the most modern ship in the Aegean Sea. In the 1912 Balkan war, in two engagements in the cape Helles and in Lemnos, the Hellenic Navy with “George Averrof” in the van forced the Ottoman fleet to abandon the Aegean Sea and stay inside the Bosporus straights. The navy help went further than that. Torpedo boat no 11 torpedoed and sunk the Ottoman Armored Cruiser “Fetih Bulent” which, anchored in the port of Salonica, was covering with its guns the land approaches to the city. With “Fetih Bulent” sunk, the city surrendered to the Greek Army.
    Greece was among the first countries to use submarines to fire torpedoes in war (1912), but has also another technological first. That of the first navy airplane to bomb ships.
    In 1912 Lieutenant Moutoussis, a navy pilot, took off with his hydroplane outside the Bosporus straights, flew over them and bombed (unsuccessfully) the Ottoman warships anchored in Marmara bay, outside Constantinople. He returned safe to be the first man that executed a naval air war mission.
    Greece by now understood the need for a permanent strong Navy. The Second World War found Greece with a fleet of submarines and destroyers that contested the freedom of movement of Italy in the ferrying of troops to Albania, to fight Greece there. The Greek Navy lost control of the Aegean Sea to the German Stuka airplanes. Greek ships took to Alexandria, Egypt and carried on submarine and destroyer warfare in the Aegean Sea during the war. With them was the veteran “George Averoff”, which did continuous convoy protection work, and won from the British the nickname “George Never-off”. She was also among the luckiest ships in the history of the Greek Navy in that in her almost 50 years of naval service won from all her engagements and suffered only minor damage. A new first was also achieved in the S.W.W.. The destroyer “Adrias’ struck a mine in the Aegean Sea and lost the forward one third (1/3) of the ship. The crew shored bulkheads and sailed 200 miles to Alexandria harbor bringing the remaining 2/3 of the ship back.
    After the war, the Hellenic Navy as part of NATO Mediterranean command was preparing to fight Russian fleet in the Aegean, which was the last stop before the Soviets emerged in the Mediterranean.
    The U.S. Navy supported the Hellenic Navy in this mission with transfer of U.S. ships, training and material and a very close co-operation resulted. The Hellenic Navy renewed itself in the period 1965-1980 and was among the first navies to adopt Missile Fast Patrol Boats, modern fast diesel submarines and ASW Helicopters. In 1990 the Hellenic Navy undertook its first after the S.W.W. mission in another sea. It participated with a frigate in the Gulf War, the first to declare its support to the U.S. led effort.
    Looking back it is clear than more than any human effort, the Aegean Sea shaped the Hellenic Navy. The needs of the islands and the seashore cities for trade protection, communication and projection of power obliged the Hellenic Navy throughout its 4000 years history to move in this archipelago, to develop its medium and mostly small ships, chose its weapons and train its crew in this sea. The field is still the same, but the knowledge about the field has vastly increased. The quest for technology continues. A great debate is now going on survivability of frigates in these confined waters, of the role of shore based missiles, on helicopters, submarines and FPBGs.
    Looking back, advanced technology mixed with seamanship was always the key to success. But over all this technical debate, a historical fact remains dominant. Never, in its 4000 years history a Greek war vessel struck its colors in the presence of the enemy. Ships were lost, sea battles were lost. But vessels never surrendered. This is the heaviest burden that every new naval cadet has to bear.

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