The naming ceremony for the first two of four new Hellenic Coast Guard patrol vessels, was attended by Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis at the port of Piraeus on Thursday.
The new patrol boats, each 38 meters long, can sail at speeds over 35 knots and are able to cross the entire Aegean twice without refuelling and under all weather conditions.
They also feature cutting-edge radar systems, underwater cameras and requisite space for rescued migrants.
One of the two will be permanently deployed in Lesvos, a Greek island that has been on the frontline of Europe’s migration crisis.
The two ships were named in honour of two fallen heroes of the Coast Guard: Captain Georgios Kotoulas, who was executed in 1942 by the occupying forces at the Kaisariani Shooting Range and port guard Marinos Zampatis, who was fatally injured in 1997 by smugglers between Corfu and Epirus, while trying to prevent the illegal entry of cargo into the country.
“They are two heroes, they are two symbols of the Coast Guard, whom we must not only remember, but also honour. That is why from today their names will travel on the waves of the Greek seas, which they loved so much. Keeping their memory alive. Continuing their mission. And inspiring the younger ones to the task,” Mitsotakis said.
The acquisition of the four large patrols this year, which cost more than €55 million, is only one aspect of the broader plan to strengthen and upgrade the Hellenic Coast Guard.
“We are all proud of the work of the women and men of the Coast Guard. Because we know that its executives -especially in the last year- have forgotten leave and weekends… And that they are always vigilant there, on the shores and in the waves, for our own safety,” the PM added.
On his part, Minister of Maritime Affairs Ioannis Plakiotakis said: “the strengthening of the operational capabilities, the sense of responsibility, the experience and the determination of the officers of the Coast Guard, have led to the particularly effective guarding of the maritime borders of our homeland.”
“It is even more important that these impressive results are combined with the observance of the rules of International Law, with sensitivity and with absolute respect for human life. Greece has sea borders, which are also borders of the European Union, and it protects them effectively,” he concluded.