Three new submarines to be ready by 2015

Construction of three Type 214 submarines, which has been stymied by technical snags, legal disputes and corruption probes, will be completed in the next couple of years, the Hellenic Navy has said.

Speaking to journalists yesterday, Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff Evangelos Apostolakis said that the three submarines – named Pipinos, Matrozos and Katsonis – will join the fleet by the end of 2015. A fourth vessel, a Type 209 submarine, the Okeanos, is also expected to be ready by that time following upgrade work, he said.

The Pipinos, which is 80 percent ready, will begin at-sea tests and evaluations in September while the Matrozos will be launched for trials two months later, Apostolakis said. Testing for the Katsonis will have to wait for 2015 before it is commissioned into service, he said.

The Papanikolis is currently Greece’s only Type 214 submarine in service. The boat, built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Kiel, Germany, joined the Greek fleet in 2010 after a four-and-a-half year delay caused by stability problems.

Greece’s submarine program, involving the procurement of four new craft and the overhaul of two older ones at an originally estimated cost of 3.5 billion euros, has suffered additional setbacks.

Former Socialist Defense Minister Akis Tsochatzopoulos was last year jailed after being found guilty of having received millions of euros in kickbacks for defense contracts during his tenure, including submarine orders placed in 2000 and 2002.

The program has been dogged by legal squabbles after the sale of Greece’s majority stake in Hellenic Shipyards from ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) to Persian Gulf group Abu Dhabi MAR.

The Greek state has filed a lawsuit against HDW, TKMS and Abu Dhabi MAR for failure to fulfill the submarine contracts.