Modernization of 4 MEKO-200 frigates take precedence in Greek Navy's strategic planning

According to information published by Yeni Safak on July 18, 2023, the Hellenic Navy is placing its focus on the overhaul of four MEKO-200 frigates, initially engineered in Germany.
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Russian Vyborg Shipyard laid the Purga ice class coastguard ship of project 23550 925 001 Hellenic Navy's Hydra class frigate Spetsai. (Picture source: US DoD)

The Hydra class is a group of four frigates currently in service with the Hellenic Navy. These vessels were designed in Germany as part of the MEKO group of modular warships, specifically adhering to the MEKO 200 design. The program was initiated in 1988, funded partly through Foreign Military Sales (FMS) aid, and originally intended for the construction of six vessels.

The first Hydra-class ship was constructed in Germany and commissioned in 1992. However, a severe fire broke out on the vessel during operations near Portland, England, causing significant damage. Following comprehensive repairs, the ship was restored to full operational status in 1993.

Unfortunately, the remaining Greek-built warships encountered delays due to financial difficulties faced by Hellenic Shipyards, and these vessels were not completed until the late 1990s.

These financial constraints, along with the acquisition of eight Kortenaer-class frigates from the Netherlands in the same period, resulted in the decision to limit the total number of Hydra-class vessels to four.

In terms of upgrade programs, 2007 saw the launch of an update to the STIR fire control system. This update enabled the firing of the RIM-162 ESSM surface-to-air missile.

The first ship to receive this upgrade was the Salamis, which successfully completed a live firing test in August 2008. The remaining three Hydra-class vessels were upgraded later that year.

On April 25, 2018, Greek Defense Minister Panos Kammenos announced that the modernization of the four vessels was underway, although no further details about the program were shared at that time.

In May 2019, the Joint Chiefs of General Staff Council (ΣΑΓΕ) decided to commence the modernization program for all four ships in the class. The Greek Parliament finally approved this program in April 2023.

Hydra-class frigates have a standard displacement of 3,360 tons, which increases to 4,000 tons when fully loaded. These vessels measure 117.5 meters in length, with a beam of 14.8 meters and a draught of 6.0 meters.

Propulsion is provided by two-shaft CODOG with controllable pitch propellers, two General Electric LM2500 gas turbines, and two MTU 20V 956 diesel engines. They can reach speeds of up to 31 knots when powered by gas turbines, and 21 knots when operating on diesel engines alone.

The Hydra-class ships come equipped with various sensors and processing systems, such as Signaal air search and surface radars, Racal Decca navigation radar, and Raytheon sonar systems.

They are also outfitted with an array of armaments, including a Mk 45 Mod 2A 5" gun, Harpoon missile launchers, and a vertical launcher for ESSM missiles. These ships also include a hangar for housing a Sikorsky S-70B-6 Aegean Hawk helicopter.