According to a report from Seapower Magazine on May 18, the Greek government is under discussions with the United States on the acquisition of four frigates by the Greek Navy. The news comes after several years of severely-heightened tensions with Greece’s Mediterranean neighbor, Turkey.
Seapower says that the US will offer four of its Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) vessels to Greece for purchase.
Its maker, the Lockheed Corporation, says that the MMSC is a lethal and highly maneuverable multi-mission surface combatant capable of littoral (near shore) and open-ocean operations.
The state-of-the-art naval vessel was designed from the keel up with an eye to confronting modern maritime and economic security threats.
The MMSC takes the proven capabilities of the U.S. Littoral Combat Ship and the inherent flexibility of the Freedom-variant hull to meet the unique maritime requirements of international navies today, according to the defense corporation.
Greek Navy Will Acquire Vessels Having Range of 5,000 Nautical Miles
The Multi-Mission Surface Combatant has an enormous range of 5,000 nautical miles and can reach speeds in excess of 30 knots. It will be based on the Freedom-variant Littoral Combat Ship’s 118-meter hull and it will utilize the same combined diesel and gas propulsion system.
With proven combat management system lineage, Lockheed Martin’s MMSC has the interoperability necessary for today’s joint and allied naval force maneuvers. Paired with the world’s most advanced maritime helicopter, the MH-60R SEAHAWK, the MMSC will have a robust anti-submarine mission capability that is fully interoperable with the U.S. Navy and its coalition partners.
The MMSC utilizes the COMBATSS-21 Combat Management System, built from the Aegis Combat System Software, according to Lockheed Martin. The MMSC integrated combat system solution leverages the 57mm Mk110 deck gun and SeaRAM, and expands multi-mission capability through integration of Over-The-Horizon surface-to-surface missiles, port and starboard 20mm remote guns, a new fire control radar and a forward centerline eight cell MK 41 Vertical Launch System, equipped with RIM-162 Evolved Sea Sparrow Missiles.
The MMSC is also equipped with the AN/SLQ-25 Torpedo Defense system.
Operational and deployed today with the U.S. Navy as the primary anti-submarine warfare anti-surface weapon system for open ocean and littoral zones, the MH-60R SEAHAWK helicopter is an advanced maritime helicopter. It is a naval helicopter available today designed to operate from frigates, destroyers, cruisers and aircraft carriers.
The Seapower report states that the Freedom class is one of two classes of the littoral combat ship program which were built for the United States Navy.
The design of Freedom class vessels is based on a semi-planing steel monohull with an aluminum superstructure. They have a length of 377 feet (115 m), and displace 3,500 metric tons (3,400 long tons) of water.
The design also incorporates a large, reconfigurable sea frame to allow rapidly interchangeable mission modules, a flight deck with an integrated helicopter launch, recovery, and handling system, and the capability of launching and recovering boats from both the stern and sides.
The Freedom class is powered by two Rolls-Royce MT30 36MW gas turbines and two Colt-Pielstick 16PA6B 6.8 MW (9,100 hp) diesel engines and 4 Rolls-Royce waterjets. They can reach a top speed of 47 knots (87 km/h; 54 mph) with a maximum cruising range of 3,500 nautical miles (6,500 km; 4,000 miles) at a speed of 18 knots (33 km/h or 21 mph).
The Mark 41 Vertical Launching System on such vessels is a shipborne missile canister-launching system that provides a rapid-fire launch capability against hostile threats. The Vertical Launch System was derived from work on the Aegis Combat System.
Greek-US Military Collaboration Continues to Strengthen
The military ties between Greece and the United States continue to strengthen as the US sent the enormous aircraft carrier USS Herschel “Woody” Williams to Souda Bay on Crete last year in a show of support.
The huge troop-carrying ship was officially deployed to Souda Bay Naval Base on Crete as of October 1, 2020 the U.S. Sixth Fleet announced.
It was the first time in 40 years that a US ship has used the joint US-Greece base as a homeport, Stars and Stripes reported.
The ship shifted its homeport from Norfolk, Va., to Souda Bay in order to conduct missions in the Mediterranean, and the waters around East, South, and West Africa, to include the Gulf of Guinea operating with regional partners.
“Hershel ‘Woody’ Williams provides a new capability in the theater, which enhances our interoperability with our partners across the spectrum of maritime operations,” said Vice Admiral Gene Black, Commander of the US’ Sixth Fleet.
“The unique design of the ship fosters inter-service operations with our US Marine Corps and Special Operations communities, which improves our ability to ensure maritime security and stability,” the Vice Admiral noted.
The ship, at 784 feet long, carries a crew of 240 and is designed to serve as a modular platform to perform large-scale logistics movements, including the transfer of troops, vehicles, and equipment from sea to shore.
The Puller class of expeditionary sea base ships is designed to reduce dependency on foreign ports and provide support if no ports are available.
Symbolic warning to Turkey?
Analysts say that the ship’s deployment could serve as a symbolic warning that the United States is frustrated with Turkey — including its incursions into Syria, its relationship with Russia in purchasing air defense systems, and its insistence on drilling for minerals in eastern Mediterranean Sea areas controlled by Greece.
The arrival of the ship could serve as a prelude to a US military buildup at Souda Bay, which could become an alternative to the US Air Force’s use of the Incirlik Air Base in Turkey, where nuclear weapons are reportedly stored.