The Hydra class was more focused on anti-submarine warfare capabilities
After World War II, the Royal Hellenic Navy was significantly strengthened by the concession of British and Italian ships. The organisation also changed in line with modern naval doctrines of that era after the entrance into NATO in 1952.
At the beginning of the 1950s, US military aid formed the core of the country’s armed forces. The Royal Hellenic Navy received the first Bostwick-class destroyers which took on the name Beasts, while withdrawing the British ones. After the change of regime and especially from the end of the 1980s, the navy works on new strategies concerning the defense of the country within the framework of the EU and the new structure of NATO.
The new role of the navy is not only concentrated on the control of the Hellenic frontiers and borders. It is also involved into peacekeeping actions under the umbrella of the UN. The Hellenic navy’s defense spending increased significantly during the 1990s. Many standard class frigates along with the orders for more missile corvettes, Poseidon class submarines and naval helicopters allowed the retirement of the obsolete vessels. Among them, the arrival of the Hydra class has contributed to the creation of a new appearance of the Greek Navy.
The Greek Hydra class was designed in Germany in the late 1980s based on the design of the Meko 200 frigate, named after a many-headed serpent in Greek mythology. The first ship was built in Germany while the remaining were built at the Hellenic Shipyards at Scaramanga.
A total of four frigates were built: F-452 Hydra, F-453 Spetsai, F-454 Psara and F-455 Salamis. The first ship was delivered to the Hellenic Navy in 1992 but it was not officially operational until 1993 due to suffered a serious fire and had to repair. The remaining ships were delayed due to financial problems, and it was not until 1998 that the last ship was completed.
When completed, the ships had a full load displacement of 4,000 tons, a length of 117.5 meters, a beam of 14.8 meters and a draft of 6 meters. As a variant of the Meko frigate, the Hydra class has high specifications for shock resistance, rigidity requirements for fire control and radar systems, and resistance to explosion and air pressure to maintain the integrity of the onboard weapons system.
The ships were optimized according to Greek requirements to fit locally manufactured equipment, it used modular construction techniques, a common shipbuilding technique today.
The hull is constructed of high tensile steel, divided into 12 self-sufficient watertight sections, which function almost independently of each other. Each compartment also has independent data transfer to the naval automation system.
The Hydra class was more focused on anti-submarine warfare capabilities with a DE1160 Variable Depth sonar and support for one S-70B6 Aegean Hawk anti-submarine warfare helicopter, the Greek version of Seahawk using the AGM-119Mk2 Penguin Anti-ship missiles, the missile uses semi-active homing to a range of 15km.
The Hydra’s armament include the Mk 48 Mod 2 vertical launcher system for 16 RIM-162 Evolved SeaSparrow Surface to Air missiles. These missiles are installed aft of the two funnels. For anti-ship warfare, the Hydra is equipped with two Mk-141 Guided Missile Launching System for RGM-84 Harpoon missiles. The Harpoon is equipped with semi-active radar homing and has a range of 130km. The launchers are installed at a fixed elevation on the upper deck behind the main mast. Surface combat capabilities are also enhanced by the use of the Aegean Hawk helicopters that provide targeting data for “over the horizon” targets.
To deal with the submarines, Hydra was installed two triple mk32 mod 5 324mm tubes for Mk46 torpedoes. It was installed on the port and starboard of the ship at the main deck level in front of the mast. The Honeywell mk46 anti-submarine torpedoes uses active and passive homing and a range of 11km.
The main gun on board was one Mk-45 127mm gun capable of hitting both air and surface targets. To deal with close-range threats, the frigates are equipped with two 20mm Phalanx close-in weapon systems. The Phalanx has six barrels firing 3,000 rounds a min and a range of 1,500m.
The vessels have a crew of 173 men, their propulsion system is an arrangement of combined diesel or gas, driving two shaft, controllable pitch propellers. They are powered by General Electric LM2500 gas turbines providing 60,656 horsepower each, and two MTU 20V956 diesel engines with 10,040 horsepower each.
The vessels have a maximum speed of 31 knots, the maximum range is 4100 nauticalmiles with a speed of 18 knots.
Sensor and Electronics systems
Electronic equipment includes the Signaal MW08 air search radar on the mast tower in the centre of the ship forward of the funnels, the Signaal DA08 air surface radar on the main mast.
The firepower is controlled by 2 Signaal STIR fire control radar, with distinctive conical antennae.
As mentioned before the MEKO 200HN is also equipped with a DE1160 Variable Depth sonar for better detection performance in a small sea such as the Aegean Sea. In addition, the vessels are fitted with the SLQ-25 Nixie torpedo decoy and Mk36 Mod1 SRBOC countermeasures system.
Compared to Turkey’s Meko 200 Barbaros-class, the Hydra-class warships have some differences, for example the use of Phalanx instead of Sea Zenith close-in weapon system, the sonar, and a combined diesel or gas propulsion system. With the same gun armament as an Arleigh Burke destroyer, eight Harpoons and a Sea Sparrow vertical launching system, these ships represent excellent flexibility.
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