Naval Group Launches Greek Frigate Kimon

Belhara frigate
Greece named the new state-of-the-art frigates after famous ancient naval commanders. Credit: Naval Group

French manufacturer Naval Group has moved forward with the “technical launching” of the Greek frigate Belharra, “Kimon” at the Lorient shipyard in northwest France. The Greek frigate’s test launch occurred on September 28.

The three FDI frigates will bear the names of Cimon (Κίμων), an admiral in Alexander the Great‘s army who gained fame for his valor in the naval Battle of Salamis in 480 BC, Nearchus (Νέαρχος), an admiral in the Athenian army before and during the Peloponnesian War, and Phormio (Φορμίων), an admiral and commander of Athens.

What sparked the frigate launch?

The launch is a result of the deal that Greek officials and French manufacturers Naval Group, MBDA, and Thales reached in March 2022. According to the agreement, three Defence and Intervention Frigates (FDI) in the configuration of the Hellenic Navy, along with their weaponry and integrated logistical support, must be purchased.

It is important to note that the French President Emmanuel Macron and the Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis had held a bilateral discussion in Malta. There they discussed the importance of the defense agreement between Greece and France as well as the two nations’ defense cooperation.

The official launch ceremony

According to the Naval Group’s schedule, the modern and sophisticated FDI frigates will be delivered in a short amount of time, beginning in 2025 for the first two units (“Kimon” and “Nearchos”) and in 2026 for the third frigate (“Formion”).

There will be an official launch ceremony involving Greek and French representatives on October 4, 2023.

Those who are scheduled to attend the ceremony include Vice Admiral Ioannis Drymousis, the Chief of the Hellenic Navy General Staff, Nikolaos Dendias, the Greek Minister of Defence and Sébastien Lecornu, French Minister of the Armed Forces. The Greek Prime Minister and French president are also expected to attend but their attendance has not yet been confirmed.

When are the three Greek frigates good to go?

It is noteworthy that, contrary to the contract’s initial estimate of October 31, 2022, the steel cutting for the second FDI HN, Nearhos (F602), started earlier than expected, on July 13, 2022. The cutting of the first steel plate for the third FDI HN, Phormion (F603), took place on July 12, 2023, rather than the previously scheduled date of October 31, 2023.

The “Kimon” frigate now only has its hull, no armament systems, and no “tower” in the middle of the ship where the radar will be located.

The lead ship, Kimon (F601), is anticipated to join the Greek Fleet In the first quarter of 2025. For the record, the ship’s keel was laid in October 2022, demonstrating the quick pace of construction.

Greece’s naval capabilities will enter a new age in 2025 with the introduction of Kimon, as the Navy will adopt a number of the new frigate’s features for the first time.

Who were the three Greek naval captains in antiquity?

Cimon was an Athenian general, admiral, and statesman who lived from around 510 to 450 BC. He was Miltiades’s son, another Athenian general.

Cimon gained notoriety for his valor while participating in the Salamis naval battle (480 BC), which took place during the Second Persian invasion of Greece.

Nearchus was an admiral (ναύαρχος) and one of Alexander the Great’s army’s officers. Following Alexander the Great’s campaign in India in 326 to 324 BC, he is renowned for his illustrious expeditionary voyage that began at the Indus River, passed across the Persian Gulf, and came to a conclusion at the mouth of the Tigris River.

Phormion was a gifted naval commander who led the Athenians to several illustrious triumphs in 428 BC. He was honored with an acropolis statue and a grand funeral after his passing. Along with Themistocles and Cimon, he is regarded as one of the many renowned admirals of Athens.

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