At a time of pressures on different fronts, Greece is pursuing a comprehensive strategy of deepening and expanding its diplomatic imprint in the wider region, but also at sea with an ambitious plan to purchase 15 new ships by 2026 to strengthen its navy.
In the coming days, the contract for the supply of three French FDI frigates will be completed and in order for the procedures to proceed quickly, Parliament will be duly informed by Defense Minister Nikos Panagiotopoulos.
The next decision to be taken concerns the supply of new corvettes with the French offering the Gowind, the Dutch the Sigma 10514, while the Italians are plugging the Doha. The Italians would also provide for the construction of Doha corvettes at the Elefsina Shipyards.
Meanwhile, the US State Department last Friday approved the potential sale of four Multi-Mission Surface Combatant (MMSC) ships for $6.9 billion to Greece alongside $2.5 billion worth of upgrades to Greece’s existing Meko ships. The US proposal would include four MMSC ships, similar to the 370-plus-foot-long Littoral Combat Ships used by the US Navy, and associated sonars, weapons, spares and technical support. The Pentagon said Lockheed Martin was the prime contractor for the ships.
If the supplies of the two Dutch M-class frigates and six Alkmaar-class minehunters move ahead, this would mean that in a period of four to seven years there will be 15 new ships in the ranks of the Hellenic Navy. Such a development places enormous pressure on the navy leadership, which must proceed by 2023 at the latest to decommission older units to save staff and resources from a meager annual maintenance budget of €80 million.