The historic Greek warship, “Velos,” which now operates as a floating museum, was damaged by the gale-force winds while docked at the port of Thessaloniki over the weekend.
Velos sustained damage to its stern and was taken to the commercial section of the port, where cruise ships and passenger ferries dock so that there can be a further inspection of the damage and decisions made on what to do next.
The ship was damaged when strong wind gusts and high waves combined to slam the boat’s stern onto the base of the promenade. The ship had been similarly damaged, though not enough so as to affect its stability and durability, during bad weather in March.
Built in Boston, USA, and launched on June 3, 1942, as the USS “Charrette” DD 581, it served in the Hellenic Navy for 32 years, as well as fighting in World War II and in the US naval operations in the Pacific.
It was refurbished and given to the then-Greek Royal Navy in 1958 and withdrawn from active duty in 1991, while it was designated a Museum of Antidictatorial Struggle in 1994.
It is one of four remaining ships of its type that still exist and had received more than 250,000 visitors while docked in Thessaloniki.
Greek warship Velos in the struggle against the junta
Velos caused a stir in Europe in May 1973 when its captain and crew mutinied during NATO exercises and sailed to Italy to raise awareness about the struggle against the Greek army junta.
In 1972 Lieutenant Captain Nikolaos Pappas assumed command of the destroyer Velos, with which he participated in the abortive Navy revolt, planned for 25 May 1973, against the then-ruling military junta.
Although the revolt was pre-empted by the junta, Pappas led his own vessel, the destroyer Velos, to Italy, where he and 31 of the ship’s officers and NCOs requested political asylum, and gave a press conference in front of the international media where he denounced the regime. In retaliation, the regime dismissed him from the Navy and stripped him of his citizenship.
Six months later, Greek university students staged an anti-junta uprising at the Athens Polytechnic that was crushed by the army and police, killing at least 24 people.
After the fall of the junta in 1974, Pappas was reinstated in his rank and was promoted to captain. On 23 March 1982, he was promoted to vice admiral and named as Chief of the Navy General Staff, a post which he retained until his retirement as a full admiral and honorary chief of the HNGS on 22 December 1986.
Pappas died at his residence in Athens, following a battle with cancer, on 5 April 2013. He was married and had two sons