October 24, 1909: Greece purchases the Georgios Averof warship

georgios averof ship

October 24, 1909, during the reign of Kyriakoulis Mavromichalis, Greece bought the cruiser Georgios Averof battleship. The ship cost 24 million drachmas, of which 8 million came from a bequest of the Greek benefactor Georgios Averof.

The ship was initially ordered by the Italian Regia Marina, but budgetary constraints led Italy to offer it for sale to international customers. With the bequest of the wealthy benefactor George Averoff as down payment, Greece acquired the ship in 1909. Launched in 1910, Averof arrived in Greece in September 1911.

Named after the Greek benefactor who helped the Greek Government purchase the battleship, the ship was the most modern warship in the Aegean at the time and served as the Greek Navy flagship vessel during the first half of the 20th century.

It saw action during the Balkan Wars, World War I, the Greco-Turkish War (1919–1922) and World War II.

The ship was decommissioned in the 1950's and today is a museum where hundreds of thousands visit every year.

B/S GEORGIOS AVEROF | This photo shows Averof Battleship. Ge… | Flickr

During the First Balkan War, the Georgios Averof ship was a deciding factor in the allies (Greece-Serbia-Bulgaria-Montenegro) victory against the Ottoman Empire.

The ship controlled the Aegean Sea and prevented Ottoman transport ships from transferring soldiers from Anatolia to Europe.

Greece was considered the weakest of the three main allies of the First Balkan Wars as it had a population of only 2.6 million people and could only field an army of 200,000 men.

The Greek Ambassador to the Bulgarian capital of Sofia famously said that “Greece can provide 600,000 men for the war effort - 200,000 men in the field, and the fleet will be able to stop 400,000 men being landed by Turkey between Salonica and Gallipoli.”

On This Day In 1913, The Georgios Averof Devastates Ottoman Navy In The Battle For Lemnos - Greek City Times

This was proven correct as the Georgios Averof terrorised the Ottoman fleet.

The Ottoman fleet eventually did not dare venture into the Aegean Sea and hid in the Dardanelle Straits, allowing Greece to liberate the Aegean islands and cementing the ship's legendary status in Greek lore.

READ MORE: Popular YouTube channel pays homage to Greek ship that terrorized Ottoman Navy.