The Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos attended today, Tuesday June 28th 2020, the ship naming ceremony of the guided missile fast patrol boat HS “KARATHANASIS” and its integration in the fleet of the Hellenic Navy, which was held at the premises of the Hellenic Navy Fast Patrol Boat Command at the Skaramagkas Naval Fort.
The ceremony was also attended by the Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr. Alkiviadis Stefanis, the Ministry’s Secretary General Mr. Antonios Oikonomou, the Chief HNDGS General Konstantinos Floros, the Chief HAFGS Lieutenant General Georgios Blioumis and the Chief HNGS Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis.
In his speech the Minister of National Defence, Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos, stated the following:
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
It is a pleasure and a great honour for me to be able to attend and celebrate the ship naming and the integration of the guided missile fast patrol boat HS “KARATHANASIS” in our Navy.
This is a proud day for the Hellenic Navy. Not exactly in the same way as previous proud days, but equally proud in its own way. This state-of-the-art strike unit constitutes a high-value addition to our Fleet’s capacity for the promotion of our Country’s naval power in the Aegean and in the Eastern Mediterranean.
It is very important that this state-of-the-art boat was built in Greece by the “Elefsis Shipyards” and above all else, this missile boat building programme shows the potential that the Greek shipbuilding industry, but also this specific shipyard, might have. Equal honour is definitely due to workers of “Elefsis Shipyards”, who backed this endeavour, intensified their pace and worked hard for its completion. This missile boat as well is in the final, in the last stages of completion of works. Our aim, our striving and our struggling is, amongst others, to create the conditions so that in the future – and soon – they would be in a position to continue their work, to built other ships as well for the Hellenic Navy, thus continuing to contribute to the revival (as I like to say) of our Country’s Shipbuilding Industry and Defence Industry.
The leadership of the Ministry of National Defence proceeded with determination for the completion of the shipbuilding, requesting and ensuring its direct delivery to the Hellenic Navy.
Specific reference should be made to the Hellenic Navy’s personnel, which undertakes to carry out this difficult project through the completion of the remaining works and the installation of systems required, so that the boat would become fully operational. With the contribution once again of “Elefsis Shipyards” workers, who assist the members of the Hellenic Navy with these final works.
Our region, Ladies and Gentlemen, is currently characterized by an environment of instability and tensions. This is not something new of course, as the ship’s name reminds us characteristically. The fallen heroes in Imia, Lieutenant Karathanasis, Lieutenant Vlachakos and Senior Chief Petty Officer Gialopsos – who fell defending our National Rights – keep reminding us that, as then as well, the threat remains. For this reason exactly, we should not be complacent, but only be vigilant while our neighbours keep on ignoring the International Law, acting in an aggressive way and threatening our National Rights.
The Armed Forces and the Hellenic Navy operate effectively in the area of national interest; and indeed this is what they do for thousands of years, putting the motto “The rule of the sea is indeed a great matter” into practice with our Fleet’s action and presence on a daily basis in the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean Sea.
The area of national interest is one and indivisible and whoever believes that the Greek Armed Forces are trapped in a restricted site of action is walking a treadmill. If anyone thinks that the Hellenic Navy, the Armed Forces, the Military and Political Leadership of the Ministry of National Defense in doing so will bend or will get tired or will weaken under this constant effort, doing what it takes for us to defend our National Rights, simply makes a miscalculation.
The powerful Armed Forces send a message both to enemies and to allies: although a peaceful country adhered to the principles of International Law and to the cooperation between people, Greece is in a position to implement anytime its strength on the ground, in order to defend its sovereign rights.
A very intensive effort – a “frantic effort” I would say – is ongoing for the upgrading of the capabilities of the Armed Forces and specifically at this critical time, of the Hellenic Navy. Cases that have been almost in idle mode some time ago, are now in a hyperactivity situation!
The struggle for the completion of the shipbuilding of these two missile boats, the effort for the acquisition of new heavyweight torpedoes for our Submarines that has already began, the effort for the revival of the Ship Repair Industry through the forthcoming investment (I want to believe that we are in the final stage) in “Elefsis Shipyards”, the elaboration of proposals for the acquisition of new warships for our Navy (some proposals are already being elaborated by the Staff), all this indicates that the effort is underway and is being intensified. These times so require.
The effort of all Members of the Hellenic Navy, from the Leadership down to the crew members, who have outdone themselves these days, carrying out this glorious operations of the Navy’s full deployment in the South Aegean Sea, in order to defend our National Rights, so requires. They deserve this. This was our duty as well; this was our obligation as the Ministry’s Political Leadership.
Dear members of Lieutenant Karathanasis’ family,
We stand today in gratitude, emotion, reverence and pride before the Ship that is named after him as a token of a small tribute for his sacrifice. Greece and the Hellenic Navy follow the tradition of Heroes and sea fighters, as indeed indicated in the Naval Academy’s coat of arms “Nationwide we educate combatants, commander of the high-seas”.
I would like to wish the Commander and the Crew of the fast patrol boat HS “KARATHANASIS” safe journeys and may Saint Nicholas always be on its bow.
The Chief HNDGS General Konstantinos Floros emphasized in his speech the following:
“Minister, Your Eminence,
With a feeling of particular joy and satisfaction I attend today the ceremony for the integration of the Guided-Missile Fast Patrol Boat HS “LIEUTENANT KARATHANASIS” in the fleet of the Hellenic Navy Fast Boat Command. In critical times like these, our Fleet is reinforced by a naval strike unit of the highest operational value, given the serious firepower that it possesses but also the great speed that may achieve.
The boat integrated today in the Fleet is named after Lieutenant Karathanasis, a modern-day hero of the Hellenic Navy, who made the ultimate sacrifice on January 31st 1996 while defending the national territory. The name of Christodoulos Karathanasis is now identified with the steel hull of this boat, sending a consistent message of Memory but also Power.
A message of Memory, because from now on when we hear the name of this boat, we will remember the Hero that sacrificed himself for the Country.
A message of Power, because the name of Lieutenant Karathanasis will be identified with a powerful Naval Strike Unit, committed to defending our territorial integrity and the Nation’s Rights.
The building of this ship being integrated today in the Fleet is the result of the effort of “Elefsis Shipyards” workers, whose contribution is clearly recognizable. These people, despite their problems, acted and keep on acting in line with the patriotic duty and for this reason, they are worthy. I would like to thank them from my heart, just like I thank the Hellenic Navy family, whose members coordinated the project of the boat’s delivery to the Fleet and the Hellenic Navy Fast Board Command, without sparing any effort, time and hard work.
They are the members of the same family that have never stopped surprising us pleasantly in the glorious History of the Navy. As now, during this period that by means of maximum speed and high morale, it achieved the immediate deployment of the Fleet on all critical maritime spaces, obtaining a decisive order, an Order of Deterrence. I congratulate you for that and I would like to express my appreciation with a very loud “BRAVO”.
I am addressing the Commander, the Officers and the Crew of “KARATHANASIS”: The Country delivers out of its citizens’ want a brand new and absolutely functional ship to you. You will be its soul and its driving force. You should serve it with passion, vigor, discipline, dignity and high morale! You should remain alert, ready to sail with all your powers and fierce momentum when and where required to defend National Sovereignty and our sovereign rights! You should perform your duty with Patriotism and selflessness, raising a wall of deterrent naval power against any threatener, so that we would be able to continue to dominate the blue waters of the Aegean and the Eastern Mediterranean!
I wish you safe journeys and may the Saint always be on your bow”.
The Chief HNGS Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis stated in his speech the following:
“Minister of National Defence,
Chief of the Hellenic National Defence General Staff,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
This day with the delivery of the sixth VOSPER torpedo boat “KARATHANASIS” in a row is another particularly glorious stage in the Hellenic Navy’s constant effort to upgrade and renew its Fleet units.
The ongoing “VOSPER” torpedo boat building has posed so far many challenges, both for the Hellenic Navy and for the domestic defence industry. However, the geopolitical situation and the developments in general in our region’s marine environment require as never before the successful and timely completion of this specific project. Therefore, the continuation of the effort is required, with persistence in the aim, as well as the constructive cooperation between all actors involved, so that the delivery of the seventh and last boat that will lead to the successful completion of a particularly complex project from a legal and technical point of view would follow.
Those who had assisted with the unblocking of this programme may feel proud today. Persistence, had work, but also risk-taking was required in order to get to the point where we are today.
The delivery of the boat before its completion was a conscious choice of the Hellenic Navy. This movement will allow for the time that elapses before the completion of the remaining works to be used by the crew, so that the faster integration and operational use of the ship by the Fleet would be achieved.
Missile boats have always been a force multiplier for the Hellenic Fleet. This specific type of boat, apart from speed and flexibility, constitutes an integrated and modern weapon system with serious firepower, capable of playing a key role, not only within the borders of the Aegean sea but also in the Eastern Mediterranean and anywhere else the national interest requires so.
However, this day stirs particular emotions for all of us, Officers graduates from the Naval Academy in 1985. Missile boat “KARATHANASIS” has been named after one of us. Our classmate Christodoulos Karathanasis, who in January 1996, when he was a Lieutenant and commander of HN-21 helicopter, was lost in the line of duty, together with Lieutenant Panagiotis Vlachakos and Senior Chief Petty Officer Ektoras Gialopsos during the crisis in Imia. Three young men, three members of the Hellenic Navy, in the early morning of January 31st 1996 joined the pantheon of Hellenic Navy heroes, remaining loyal to their vow to defend our Country’s integrity. Their sacrifice will remind us that the precious asset of Freedom, which is a substantive element of the Greek soul, has a high price.
The Hellenic Navy, as a national power and deterrent factor provides unique tools to the political and military leadership for the defence of national interests. Warships and their crews maintain a standing alertness to relocate wherever required for as long required, within the framework of the Hellenic Navy’s mission and tasks assigned to it by the Chief HNDGS. The members of the Hellenic Navy, with high morale and dignity, work hard, outdoing themselves to keep the fleet combat effective and capable, implementing exactly the order for immediate response readiness for any challenge and threat, no matter where it comes from.
This was evident from the evolution of the recent tension when within a few hours, thousands of men and women of the Hellenic Navy fulfilled their duty, so that the Fleet would be deployed in a timely manner in the Aegean, but also in the entire Eastern Mediterranean within the framework of its mission.
The satisfaction for all those people comes from the recognition of their effort by the society and the provision of resources by the latter to them, in order to do their job better. In this light, the integration of missile boat “KARATHANASIS” in our Navy gives us great satisfaction. However, the efforts for the Fleet’s reinforcement by means of acquiring new units and upgrading the old ones are not over here today, but are constant despite any budgetary constraints. We should continue the effort for the successful maintenance, but also increase of our country’s naval power, which constitutes a primary deterrent factor against any malevolent and aggressive act.
Concluding, I would like to underline that the Commander and the crew of the new boat should fulfill their duty and work tirelessly, so that very soon missile boat “KARATHANASIS” would be another choice for the Fleet. I have the most complete faith in you and I wish you all the best in your effort, safe journeys and may Saint Nicholas always be on your bow.
The ship naming ceremony of the guided missile fast patrol boat HS “KARATHANASIS” and its integration in the fleet of the Hellenic Navy was also attended by the President of the Permanent Parliamentary Delegation for National Defence and Foreign Affairs, Mr. Konstantinos Gkioulekas, MPs and representatives from parties, the Attika District and the Local Administration, His Eminence the Metropolitan of Nikaia Alexios, former Ministers and relatives of the fallen heroes of the Hellenic Navy in Imia.