Greek veterans who opposed the country’s former military leaders on Sunday demanded that the defence ministry relocate a historic warship after gale-force winds damaged the vessel that took part in the resistance to the 1967-74 dictatorship.

The Association of Resistance Members Jailed and Exiled by the Dictatorship (SFEA) said the destroyer Velos (meaning “arrow” in Greek) had sustained “serious” hull damage after repeatedly striking the dock in Thessaloniki on Saturday.

The group published a picture of the ship’s damaged bow, noting that the vessel had already been damaged by adverse weather in March.

SFEA insisted the ship’s dock is too exposed to the elements, noting that a buoy holding the warship in place had also broken in November 2021.

“These conditions are disastrous for an 80-year-old ship that needs systematic and special maintenance,” the veterans said.

A diver was dispatched Sunday to examine the hull while a tugboat held the vessel steady.

The warship caused a stir in Europe in May 1973 when its captain and crew mutinied during NATO exercises, and sailed to Italy to raise awareness about the struggle against the Greek army junta.

Six months later, Greek university students staged an anti-junta uprising at the Athens Polytechnic that was crushed by the army and police, killing at least 24 people.

The crackdown shocked Europe and is widely considered to have helped break the dictatorship’s grip on power. Democracy was restored months later.

Launched in 1942 as the USS Charrette, the Boston-built destroyer saw extensive action in the Pacific in World War II before being transferred to Greece in 1958.

It was decommissioned in 1991 and became a museum. It has been moored at Thessaloniki since 2019, but veterans say it would be safer at a site near Athens.

Source: AFP