The information states that the first allusion to the matter was made during the recent visit of the Head of GHETHA to the USA.
Information from navaldefence.gr states that Greece has expressed an initial interest in the landing ship USS Whidbey Island (LSD-41), which the US Navy has just retired (it was the first of the class of the same name). The interest comes from GEETHA, and not initially the GEN, as there is a significant gap in the range of landing operations that the Hellenic Armed Forces will probably be called upon to carry out
Although the 16,000 ton (loaded) LSD-41 entered service in 1985, it is nevertheless in good condition, the US Navy has heavily armed it for its mission with 2 x Mk20 Phalanx, and 2 RAM launchers. Its engine room is exclusively equipped with diesel engines – it can reach 20 knots – so it is assumed that there will not be any significant problems in putting it into service, while the basic crew required for its operation is reasonable. Thus the PN will not be overburdened, while the crew will probably be supplemented with members of the Army Air Force and/or the Special Warfare Command.
The information states that the first allusion to the matter was made in the recent visit of the Head of the GHETHA to the USA, with the Americans being positive about such a possibility. The ship was not retired permanently, it is in OSIR (Out of Service In Reserve) status, and the armament (which the PN is very interested in keeping on board) has not been removed, only the ammunition and missiles.
The GEETHA wants such a ship, as a forward base for the recapture of islets or the transfer of aid to Cyprus. At the same time it will be able to play the role of parking AH-64A/D attack helicopters and CH-47D transports (and UH-60L/M) that will perform landing actions, or reinforcement missions. We remind you that in a mission of the Army Aviation in Cyprus, the Greek helicopters flew low and with a full load of fuel, without having an intermediate station in case of need.
LDS-41 comes to “snap” with the absolutely necessary supply of 76 AAV-7RAM/RS amphibious vehicles for the Greek Marines. It is the aim of GEETHA and DEP that an amphibious operations ship such as the LSD-41 becomes the floating “home” of the Marine Brigade. In its large cargo hold, USS Whidbey Island can accommodate up to 36 AAVs and can support a detachment of approximately 500 Marines.
What needs to be done is now an official LoR to acquire the ship, which will not require money to acquire (except perhaps for the weapons, ie the RIM-116 RAM missiles). Of course, the acquisition of such a vessel will go through many studies, and must first be considered by the experienced staff of the PN. There will also be discussions for other ships of the same type (Landing Ship Dock). The American Navy USN of course guarantees smooth support in spare parts, as 6 other vessels of the same class are still in service.
One observation we should make is that such a ship is absolutely necessary for civil protection missions as well, and perhaps there should be additional funding. In major maritime security incidents, or in relief missions from natural disasters, Greece does not have the appropriate ships to intervene. For example, Italy sent a helicopter carrier to a shipwreck in the Ionian Sea, while France sent a helicopter carrier to ferry aid to Vyrito after the devastating 2020 eruption. Likewise, Turkey will make use of the TCG Anadolu, while Greece will not have a base ship. in a corresponding mission.
We understand that some do not want “any” systems or ships from the USA, while some others oppose any kind of aid to the ED, especially all aid aimed at protecting our remote islands and the EEZ. We will be next to and always in favor of these actions and supplies.