In the presence of the Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos and the Minister of Development and Investment Mr. Adonis Georgiadis, the launching ceremony of the Hellenic Navy’s Guided Missile Fast Patrol Vessel no. “7” was held. The ceremony took place at the facilities of “Elefsis Shipyards” in Elefsina.
The ceremony was also attended by the Deputy Minister of Private Investment and Public & Private Partnerships Mr. Nikos Papathanasis, the Deputy Minister of National Defence Mr. Alkiviadis Stefanis, the Chief HNDGS General Konstantinos Floros, the Chief HNGS Vice Admiral Stylianos Petrakis and the Secretary General of the Ministry of National Defence Mr. Antonis Oikonomou.
Moreover, the ceremony was attended by the Chairman and Managing Director of ONEX Syros Shipyards S.A. Mr. Panos Xenokostas, executives of the ship repair industry and workers at shipyards.
The Minister of National Defence Mr. Nikolaos Panagiotopoulos delivered the following speech:
“Ladies and Gentlemen,
At the beginning of our term of office, both I and the Minister of Development declared our firm intention to revive the Ship Repair Industry in Greece; maybe not anyone realized that we were very serious about it. I believe that a few months later – about a year – this has become very clear not only theoretically but in practice as well. Many agreements had to be made and a very close cooperation needed to be developed with the Ministry of Development, with Adonis Georgiadis, in order to develop our plan for the strengthening of precisely those elements of the Ship Repair Industry and in particular, the “Elefsis Shipyards”.
If for no other reason, the times demand it. The circumstances also demand it more than anything. Many ships have been built on the account of the Hellenic Navy and the work has been also excellent in the past. But at some point, we had to follow different rhythms and lay the foundations for the future of “Elefsis Shipyards” and the Ship Repair Industry in Greece, as an element of both the Defence Industry and the entire Greek Economy. However, we had to prove that we were serious about this change of rhythms. Otherwise, I am afraid that we would also be led to successive 6-month extensions without though any end in sight regarding the completion of the ship building work.
Today a ship is launched that is much needed by the Hellenic Navy, in order to strengthen its fleet, as indeed all other ships. A few days ago, the ship naming ceremony of Torpedo Boat no. “6” was held. Today, Torpedo Boat no. “7” is launched and we are beginning to experience at the end of the road the completion of this boat.
This is neither the end nor the beginning of the end for “Elefsis Shipyards”. I would say it is rather the end of the beginning, not the beginning of the end. An effort is made for some months now to change the ownership structure. Investment initiatives are always welcome, provided they are made under the proper conditions, with the appropriate procedures and always with transparency with the workforce having the right to be anxious more than any other person that all this is for a better future. I think that these conditions have been met.
We are waiting for this procedure to end and I can assure you that everybody in the Armed Forces, the military and the political leadership and the Hellenic Navy is looking forward to this with eager anticipation. A few days ago, they proved to everybody the Hellenic Navy’s huge potential to respond to the situation. We have to do our best to help the Hellenic Navy even more by means of assets as well. Within this context, we are standing here today.
Above all, I would like to thank you, the workforce of “Elefsis Shipyards” for realizing the criticality of the situation; you understood that there are people in the Ministry of Development and the Ministry of National Defence who want a better future for you. This is not limited to theoretical announcements, but it is proved by actions.
Every shipyard, every production unit needs work. Therefore, it is our obligation to ensure that there will be work. Today, as I have already said, is the end of the beginning. There are already some proposals. Mr. Xenokostas has ensured that we become aware of them from the outset, to put it that way, for even more from “Elefsis Shipyards”. I hope that this procedure will be completed quickly and smoothly; it certainly seems that way so far. I believe that the entire country needs investment initiatives in its production structure, its production infrastructure.
In my opinion, the shipbuilding industry is a jewel that we finally have to make it shine again for the Greek Economy. This is our job and our duty. Each one exerted pressure, in his own way and from his own point of view, based on what each one wanted for “Elefsis Shipyards” from his Ministry. I truly wish that these shipyards have even more work in the future, not only on the account of the Hellenic Navy and the Armed Forces, but for the entire Shipbuilding Industry of Greece. That is the target. We should move at a faster pace and I believe that this became clear to everybody.
I would also like to thank all those who were at the wheel of “Elefsis Shipyards” up to this day and Mr. Tavoularis of course. This man achieved results; a boat was launched for the Hellenic Navy. We should not pretend that this did not happen. However, times demanded different rhythms, different procedures and I believe that the time for the next day – for the new future of the shipyards – has now arrived smoothly. Nobody’s work is being ignored.
Besides, you have built these boats in the past for the Hellenic Navy. Nobody else did. The “Elefsis Shipyards” offered missile torpedo boats and so much more to the Hellenic Navy. They keep on offering and I am confident about that; that with the conditions, the foundations that are laid these days, they will continue to offer. Therefore we should look at the future with optimism. This is subject to the requirement that there is work. That work is done.
We walked out of the times of ease, the “convenient” ones. But if there is willingness and a purpose, I think that we should all hope for a better future. I am looking at the facilities here and I am thinking of them with much more intensive activity in a few months from now. You can do it and you have proven that you are able of carrying out work, in accordance with the requirements and the rhythm imposed by the current circumstances for the Hellenic Navy and the Armed Forces. Thank you all.
I would really like to thank my friend, the Minister of Development Mr. Adonis Georgiadis and the Deputy Minister Mr. Nikos Papathanasis, who with his experience and practical mind clearly strengthens this team and we are glad that he took up the duties of the Deputy Minister and is with us today. I would like to thank the people in the Hellenic Navy, who believed in the shipyards and their work and continued to think that work should be assigned to them, as well as the members of this production unit that is so important from a strategic point of view for the Greek Economy, the workers. You should understand that you should wish for you to have work, more and more work. And if today you are getting paid with 70% of your salary for your existing work, tomorrow you will get paid with 120%, in the sense that more work entails better working conditions, one of the most prominent of which being the salary! As long as there is work to do, repeated work with a steady flow.
The Hellenic Navy was and will be a client; but now opportunities are opened for more clients to come. I wish you all the best. Congratulations and have in mind that this is the time that the Armed Forces need to be strengthened and each one of us needs to do what he/she can, from where he/she can, to support the Armed Forces, which ensure that the country is not threatened by anyone and whoever dares to utter threats, will have to confront the quality and power of our Armed Forces through its assets and its human resources.