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Wednesday, 7 December 2016

WARSHIPS OF THE PAST: Elli cruiser of the Royal Hellenic Navy

 Written by D-Mitch

Elli, cruiser of the Royal Hellenic Navy (1951)
In 1947, Greece accepted from Italy the cruiser Eugenio di Savoia, a Condottieri class light cruiser of the Italian Navy (Regia Marina,  the Navy of the Kingdom of Italy) as a World War II reparation for Greece. The new warship renamed Elli, to honor the Elli protected cruiser that was sunk by the Italian submarine Delfino while she sat at anchor near the Greek island Tinos, before the outbreak of the Greco-Italian War on 15 August 1940. The ship was commissioned into the Royal Hellenic Navy (Βασιλικό Πολεμικό Ναυτικό) in 1951. The 186-meter cruiser was the longest warship ever served with the Hellenic Navy and the largest surface combatant after WWII. However, the largest ever Greek warships were the two per-dreadnought battleships of the Mississippi class, Kilkis and Limnos, that had a full displacement approximately 14,500tons at full load. It should be mentioned that today's Hellenic Navy largest warship is the logistic support ship Prometheus that has a displacement of about 14,000tons and length of 146 meters.

Elli, cruiser of Royal Hellenic Navy in 1951
Elli, during her transfer to Greece (1951)
Elli, during her transfer to Greece (1951)
The article contains more than 70 (!) photos and the most accurate and complete information about the ship, which in Greek service, very little is known about its equipment and history. Unfortunately, the photos are not of high resolution, so it was really difficult to distinguish the equipment on the vessel and to analyze it better. Moreover, this article was another example where the researcher should be responsible for evaluating all his sources with criticism, and to not rely entirely on the online sources, but to report only the credible information based on careful judgment of the reliability of information. Yet, despite all these issues, I hope I did a good work and you will enjoy the article!

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Sunday, 27 November 2016

FACTS & TRIVIA #3: HMS Hood, HMS Agincourt, Jean Bart, Gorz and surpercarriers

Enjoy the third part of a new category of articles where all the significant and interesting facts in naval history as well as "strange" and unique features of naval combattants' equipment, are described in brief. 

1. HMS Hood, the last battlecruiser built for the Royal Navy

HMS Hood, 17 March 1924
HMS Hood
HMS Hood
HMS Hood was a fast and very beautiful warship, a steel giant of 262m, about 47,000tons displacement and armed with eight 15in guns, but with serious design limitations. She was the pride of Royal Navy for more than two decades. As one of the largest and most powerful warships in the world, her prestige was reflected in her nickname ‘The Mighty Hood’. On 24 May, 1941 Hood with the newly commissioned Prince of Wales intercepted the German battleship Bismarck, one of the largest battleships ever built, and the heavy cruiser Prinz Eugen in the Denmark Strait. The pride of Royal Navy was lost quickly that day. The fifth salvo of the German battleship Bismarck sank the mighty Hood splitting the ship in two; the ship sank in three minutes! In only eight minutes of firing, Hood had disappeared, taking all but three of her crew of 1,419 men with her...

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Wednesday, 23 November 2016

FACTS & TRIVIA #2: 21st century cruisers, Ise class hybrid battleship-carriers, British 18in naval gun, Valmy and HS Vasilissa Olga

Written by D-Mitch

This is the second part of a new category of articles where all the significant and interesting facts in naval history as well as "strange" and unique features of naval combattants' equipment, will be described in brief. Enjoy!

1.  21st century cruisers

There are very few navies in the world today that have cruisers in their inventories. Two of the world's superpowers, as somebody could expected, the USA and Russia, have such warships in their fleets, ships that exceed the 10,000tons displacement and of length greater than 170 meters.

  • Ticonderoga class cruisers of the United States Navy
USS Leyte Gulf (CG-55), a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser

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Tuesday, 22 November 2016

FACTS & TRIVIA #1: Modern torpedo launchers, USS Hull, HMS Victoria, Mississippi class and HMS Vanguard

Written by D-Mitch

This is the first of a new category of articles where all the significant and interesting facts in naval history as well as "strange" and unique features of naval combattants' equipment, will be described in brief. Enjoy the first part of my collection!

1. Non-trainable torpedo launchers in unusual positions on modern surface combatants

There are various torpedo launchers on modern large warships; some of them are trainable such as the popular US Mk32 triple/twin torpedo launcher, the B515 (ILAS-3) and the Russian ChTA-53, and some are not such as the US Mk32 Mod 9 twin launcher or the Cray Marine twin launcher. What do all these launchers have in common? They are located mainly amidships on large warships and on small vessels across the deck (Pauk class, torpedo craft etc.) or at the stern in a two-single torpedo launchers configuration (Combattante class etc.). But there are some large warships in modern era that had/have torpedo launchers in quite unusual positions and configuration. Such ships are the following:
  • Hamburg class destroyers and Deutschland training cruiser of the German Navy

Hamburg class destroyers of the German Navy with the initial triple torpedo launcher at the bow.

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Sunday, 20 November 2016

FLEETS #16: Combined Naval Fleets of the Royal Netherlands Navy and Belgian Navy and the Admiral Benelux (ABNL)

The flag of ABNL
The Dutch and Belgian Navies have been working together since 1948. In that year, the two countries agreed that their navies would operate under single command during times of war. The Admiral Benelux (ABNL) is the Commanding Officer of the combined military staff of the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Naval Component of the Belgian Armed Forces. The Benelux union, is the politico-economic union of three neighbouring states: Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The position of ABNL, a result of developing naval cooperation between the Royal Netherlands Navy and the Belgian Navy, was created together with the combination of the Staffs of the two contributing navies on March 28, 1995 in the BENESAM Accord (from the Belgisch-Nederlandse Samenwerking, English: Netherlands Cooperation Accord). This cooperation was first geared at mutual battlefield cooperation and later at mutual defense in the Cold War as part of NATO's Allied Command Channel. After the end of the Cold War the focus of the Dutch-Belgian cooperation turned more and more to the efficient use of equipment and personnel (also driven by cutbacks in military spending after the collapse of the Soviet Union). The ABNL is responsible for the combined operations of the Dutch and Belgian Navies and can be tasked with the responsibility for the operational readiness and deployment of the combined fleets in joint operations, both in war- and peacetime operations. Most of all the ABNL is responsible for the efficient use of joint material and personnel and oversees the joint training programs of the two navies. That is the reason why the two navies use the same types of ships and helicopters. Recently, the two countries signed an agreement to replace their four (4) modernized Karel Doorman class frigates with new vessels under a joint programme as well as their twelve (12) Tripartite class mine countermeasure vessels with new ones (source).
 
The two following graphs depict the major fighting ships of the two Navies, the combined fleets form a quite significant force for the European standards. Notice that, ships that do not carry even the minimal armament, are excluded from the graph. These ships are mainly hydrographic survey vessels, tugs, training ships, diving support vessels, etc.

The combined Naval Fleets of the Netherlands and Belgium (version II). For a high resolution image click here.

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Friday, 4 November 2016

PHOTO GALLERY #13: Blessas, fast attack craft of the Hellenic Navy

HS Laskos. Photo: D-Mitch
On Friday, October 28, I had the opportunity to visit the fast attack craft P-21 Blessas, second vessel in the Laskos class (Combattante IIIA) of the Hellenic Navy. The vessels of the class were extensively modernized with the exception of their weapon systems (especially their obsolete MM38 Exocet anti-ship missiles) and handed over to the Navy the period 2008-2011, featuring the most cutting edge electronic systems similar to those of Roussen class, the latest and most advanced class of fast attack craft in service with the Hellenic Navy. However, some months ago, it was announced, that the Laskos class missile boats will receive the MM40 Block 2 Exocet, from the first three boats in the Roussen class, while the latter will receive the more advanced MM40 Block 3. HS Blessas, together with the Elli class frigate HS Kountouriotis (photo gallery here) and Type 209 submarine HS Pontos (photo gallery here) were opened to the public at Piraeus harbor due to the forthcoming celebration of Ohi Day (anniversary of the "No") to commemorate the rejection by Greek Prime Minister Metaxas of the ultimatum made by Italian dictator Mussolini on October 28, 1940 during WWII. It was very surprising to see so many people waiting to visit the vessels as the weather was a bit windy and rainy, and the most significant was that this public holiday fell on Friday (3-day weekend for public employees)! To learn more about the equipment, the armament and the capabilities of Laskos class click here. So, I hope you will enjoy the photos!

The three warships at Piraeus harbor. Photo: D-Mitch
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Thursday, 27 October 2016

WARSHIPS OF THE PAST: Worcester class anti-aircraft cruisers of the United States Navy

Written by D-Mitch

USS Worcester, lead ship of theWorcester class cruisers
Warships with the size of a battleship and armament of a light cruiser, the Worcester class anti-aircraft cruisers of the United States Navy were the ultimate all-gun light cruisers. With a full displacement of approximately 18,000 tons and a length of more than 207 meters (!), they were larger and heavier than any light or heavy cruiser of WWII and post-war cruisers (and their missile conversions) with only very few exceptions such as the Russian Sverdlov class (they were 3 meters longer but displaced 1,500 tons less..), the American heavy cruisers Des Moines which were the culmination of US navy gun-cruiser design and entered in service the same year with the Worcesters, the American nuclear-powered missile cruiser Long Beach and of course the modern gigantic Russian Kirov class nuclear-powered missile cruisers which are actually considered battlecruisers. All four classes will be analyzed thoroughly in future posts. It is worth of mention, that there was only one cruiser in both World Wars that exceeded the size of the post-war Worcesters; this was the Prinz Eugen of the German Hipper class heavy cruisers, which was 207.7 m long (only.. 0,6m longer!) and with the clipper bow, her overall length was 212.5m. Furthermore, her full displacement was 19,050t, slightly larger than of the Worcesters.

USS Roanoke, second vessel in the Worcester class cruisers, underway in San Francisco Bay,
California, at the time of Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz' review of the First Fleet, 13 June 1957.
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