President of the Greece Katerina Sakellaropoulou inspected navy fleet vessels at sea from the frigate Hydra in the Saronic Gulf on Friday, as Athens considers the purchase of four new frigates.
She was was attending the closing stages of the Hellenic Navy’s military exercise “Kataigis 2021” (Thunderstorm) which was held between June 6 and June 10 in the across the Aegean Sea with the participation of ships and other navy craft.
“National pride is the feeling that prevails after the inspection of the Fleet. Pride and respect for the men and women of our Navy, who serve the nation with devotion, high wisdom and self-sacrifice,” Sakellaropoulou said.
“The modern Themistocles are effectively defending the maritime borders of our homeland and Europe against challenges and threats to our national security, such as those we faced in the summer of 2020,” she added.
The exercise was held in the context of the navy’s annual operational training program to maintain and increase the operational readiness and fighting skills of the participants.
— GEN Konstantinos Floros (@ChiefHNDGS) June 11, 2021
Greece considers offers for new frigates
Meanwhile, Greece has accepted proposals from the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, France, and Italy for four new frigates to bolster its Hellenic Navy.
Greece could potentially use up to 5 billion euros to invest in frigates from the American Multi-Mission Surface Combatant by Lockheed Martin, the French Naval Groups’s Belharra HN, the Dutch Damen ship Sigma 11515, Britain’s type 31 Arrowhead from Babcock, MEKO A200NG from the German company TKS, and Italy’s FREMM by the company Fincantieri.
Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced that all three branches of the Hellenic Armed Forces, which includes the Hellenic Air Force, the Hellenic Army General Staff, and the Hellenic Navy, will undergo further modernization.
The Hellenic Navy, however, is seen as a top priority now that tensions have risen with Turkey in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas.
Greece’s Hellenic Navy is equipping itself to match Turkey
Turkey attempted to claim jurisdiction for search and rescue operations in almost half of the Aegean Sea last year.
In a statement, the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Athens said that the Turkish law that defines the area of responsibility is “illegal insofar as it covers areas of Greek sovereignty and jurisdiction.”
Greece was responding to the announcement by Turkey that it has expanded its search and rescue area of responsibility to cover the “Blue Homeland,” a revanchist doctrine which aspires to give Turkey control over the waters of the eastern Aegean and the northern Mediterranean.
The announcement by Adil Karaismailoğlu, the Turkish Minister of Transport and Infrastructure through twitter includes the map of the areas Turkey says it will assume responsibility.
The Greek Ministry of Foreign Affairs said that international treaties have clearly defined that Greece is responsible for such operations through the Greek Joint Rescue Coordination Center (JRCC) located in Piraeus.
“Greece coordinates all search and rescue operations in its area of responsibility, providing services in this case to all those at risk, whether they are on ships or on and planes.”
The ministry adds that the Turkish move “has purely political motives that could endanger human lives.”
For the past year, Turkey has repeatedly sent out Navtexes, or Navigational Telexes, maritime messages sent from a ship to other nearby vessels, to announce they were blocking off of areas in the Aegean and Mediterranean Sea, as well as searching for oil and gas reserves.
Turkey has been constantly escalating its illegal activities in the Eastern Mediterranean between August and the present day, while blatantly violating international law and the Law of the Sea.
“It is now clear and generally accepted in Europe that Turkey has chosen to act in a way that undermines international law and European goals. It has chosen to act as a revisionary and destabilizing factor, dangerous to the security of both the immediate and wider region, but also to the priorities and values expressed and promoted by the EU,” said Greek Foreign Minister Nikos Dendias.