Greek battleship Kilkis

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Kilkis2.jpg
Kilkis, while still in US Navy service
Career (Greece) Naval Ensign of Greece (1863-1924 and 1935-1970).svg
Name: Kilkis
Namesake: Battle of Kilkis-Lahanas
Laid down: 12 May 1904
Launched: 30 September 1905
Commissioned: 22 July 1914
Fate: Sunk on 23 April 1941 near Salamis.
Status: Salvaged in the 1950s
Notes: previously USS Mississippi (BB-23)
General characteristics
Class & type: Mississippi-class battleship
Displacement: Design: 13,000 long tons (13,000 t)
Full load: 14,465 long tons (14,697 t)
Length: 382 ft (116.4 m)
Beam: 77 ft (23.5 m)
Draft: 24 ft 8 in (7.5 m)
Installed power: 10,000 ihp (7,500 kW)
Propulsion: 2 × Triple-expansion reciprocating engines
8 × Babcock & Wilcox boilers
Speed: 17-knot (31 km/h; 20 mph) maximum
Crew: 744
Armament: 4 × 12-inch (305 mm) guns
8 × 8-inch (203 mm) guns
8 × 7-inch (178 mm) guns
12 × 3-inch (76 mm) guns
6 × 3-pounder guns
2 × 1-pounder guns
2 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes
Armor: Belt: 9 in (229 mm)
Turrets: 12 in (305 mm)
Conning tower: 9 in (229 mm)

Kilkis (Greek: Θ/Κ Κιλκίς) was a 13,000 ton Mississippi-class battleship originally built by the US Navy in 1904–1908. As Mississippi she was purchased by the Greek Navy in 1914, and renamed her Kilkis, along with her sister Idaho, renamed Lemnos. Kilkis was named for the Battle of Kilkis-Lahanas, a crucial engagement of the Second Balkan War. Armed with a main battery of four 12 in (305 mm) guns, Kilkis and her sister were the most powerful vessels in the Greek fleet.

The ship saw limited action during World War I. Greece's pro-German monarch, Constantine I opted to remain neutral until October 1916, when pressure from the Triple Entente forced him to abdicate in favor of a pro-Entente government. For the remainder of the war, Kilkis operated solely as a harbor defense ship. In the immediately ensuing Greco-Turkish War of 1919–1922, Kilkis supported Greek landings in Turkey and participated in the final Greek sea-borne withdrawal in 1922. She remained in service into the early 1930s, when she was used for a training ship. During the German invasion of Greece in 1941, she and her sister were sunk in Salamis by German Ju 87 Stuka dive-bombers. The two ships were ultimately raised in the 1950s and broken up for scrap.

Construction[edit]

The ship under construction, as Mississippi

Laid down on 12 May 1904, the ship was launched on 30 September 1905 and commissioned into the United States Navy on 1 January 1908 as USS Mississippi.[1] She served in the US Navy until 1914, when she and her sister were sold on 30 June 1914,[2] for the sum of $12,535,276.58.[3] The two ships were transferred to the Greek Navy in Newport News, Virginia the following month.[4] The ship was 382 feet (116 m) long overall and had a beam of 77 ft (23 m) and a draft of 24 ft 8 in (7.52 m). She displaced 13,000 metric tons (13,000 long tons; 14,000 short tons) as designed and up to 14,465 t (14,237 long tons; 15,945 short tons) at full combat load. The ship was powered by two-shaft vertical triple expansion engines and eight coal-fired Babcock & Wilcox boilers rated at 10,000 indicated horsepower (7,500 kW) and a top speed of 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph). Lattice masts were installed in 1909. She had a crew of 744 officers and enlisted men.[1]

The ship was armed with a main battery of four 12 in (305 mm) L/45 guns in two twin turrets, one on either end of the superstructure. Eight 8 in (203 mm) L/45 guns were mounted in four twin turrets, two on other side of the vessel amidships. The secondary battery was rounded out with eight 7 in (178 mm) L/45 guns mounted individually in casemates along the length of the hull. Close-range defense against torpedo boats was protected by a battery of twelve 3 in (76 mm) L/50 guns, six 3-pounder guns and two 1-pounder guns. The ship's armament system was completed by two 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes submerged in her hull.[1] Kilkis and Lemnos were the most powerful vessels in the Greek Navy.[5]

Service history[edit]

Kilkis and Lemnos quickly left the United States after their transfer in July, due to the rising tensions in Europe following the assassination of Archduke Franz Ferdinand of Austria the previous month.[6] After arriving in Greece, Kilkis became the flagship of the Greek fleet.[7] At the outbreak of World War I in July 1914, Greece's pro-German monarch, Constantine I, decided to remain neutral. The Entente powers landed troops in Salonika in 1915, which was a source of tension between France and Greece. Ultimately, the French seized the Greek Navy on 19 October 1916 (see Noemvriana and National Schism).[8] Kilkis was reduced to a skeleton crew and had the breech blocks for her guns removed to render them inoperable. All ammunition and torpedoes were also removed.[9] Ultimately, a pro-Entente government replaced Constantine and declared war on the Central Powers. Kilkis, however, did not see active service with Greece's new allies,[8] and instead was used solely for harbor defense until the end of the war.[5]

After the end of World War I Kilkis saw service during the Greco-Turkish War, where she supported landings to seize Ottoman territory.[8] On 5 May 1919, Kilkis and a pair of destroyers escorted a convoy of six troop transports to Smyrna, where the soldiers were disembarked.[10] The Ottoman Navy had been interned by the Allies after the end of World War I, and so provided no opposition to the Greek Navy's activities.[8] In July 1920, Kilkis and a pair of destroyers escorted a convoy carrying 7,000 infantrymen, 1,000 artillerists, and 4,000 mules to Panderma.[11] Operations came to a close in September 1922 when the Greek Army was forced to evacuate by sea, along with a sizable number of civilians, from Asia Minor. The fleet transported a total of 250,000 soldiers and civilians during the evacuation.[8]

Kilkis, sunk by German dive-bombers. Lemnos can be seen sunk in the background.

During the operations in Turkey, Kilkis left the theater to represent Greece during the Fleet Review in Spithead to honor King George V on his birthday, 3 June 1920.[7] Kilkis underwent repairs and upgrades in 1926–1928 but was already obsolete due to low speed and low freeboard.[12] The ship had her boilers re-tubed during this refit.[2] On 29 November 1929, the Greek navy announced that Kilkis would be withdrawn from service and broken up for scrap.[13] Consequently, in 1930, the armored cruiser Georgios Averof replaced her as the fleet flagship. Nevertheless, Kilkis remained in service with the fleet until 1932.[14] The ship was then withdrawn from the active fleet and used as a training ship.[2]

A minor insurrection in the Greek fleet in March 1935 led to a reduction in the number of personnel in the Navy. As a result, Kilkis and Georgios Averof were removed from active service.[15] After the revolt, Kilkis was used as a training ship for anti-aircraft gunners.[14] She was used as a floating battery in 1940–1941, based in Salamis.[2] Spare guns from Kilkis and Lemnos were employed as coastal batteries throughout Greece.[16] The ship was attacked in Salamis Naval Base by Ju 87 Stuka dive bombers on April 23, 1941, during the German invasion of Greece.[2] Kilkis attempted to get underway to evade the attacks, but she was hit by several bombs and sank in the harbor.[14] Her wreck was refloated and broken up for scrap in the 1950s.[4]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ a b c Gardiner, p. 144
  2. ^ a b c d e Gardiner & Gray, p. 384
  3. ^ Cassimatis, p. 4
  4. ^ a b Hore, p. 89
  5. ^ a b Paloczi-Horvath, p. 80
  6. ^ Parramore et al., p. 292
  7. ^ a b Lautenschläger, p. 64
  8. ^ a b c d e Gardiner & Gray, p. 383
  9. ^ Fotakis, p. 131
  10. ^ Dobkin, p. 65
  11. ^ Halpern, pp. 244–245
  12. ^ Paizis-Paradellis, p. 96
  13. ^ Lautenschläger, pp. 64–65
  14. ^ a b c Lautenschläger, p. 65
  15. ^ Brassey, p. 42
  16. ^ Kaufmann & Jurga, p. 312

References[edit]

  • Brassey, Thomas A. (1936). Brassey's Annual (London: Brassey's Naval and Shipping Annual). 
  • Cassimatis, Louis P. (1988). American Influence in Greece 1917–1929. Kent, OH: Kent State University Press. ISBN 0-87338-357-5. 
  • Dobkin, Marjorie Housepian (1998). Smyrna 1922: The Destruction of a City. New York: Newmark Press. ISBN 0-9667451-0-8. 
  • Fotakis, Zisis (2005). Greek Naval Strategy and Policy, 1910–1919. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-35014-3. 
  • Gardiner, Robert, ed. (1979). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships 1860–1905. Greenwich: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-8317-0302-4. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. 
  • Halpern, Paul G. (2011). The Mediterranean Fleet, 1919–1929. Burlington, VT: Ashgate. ISBN 9781409427568. 
  • Hore, Peter (2006). Battleships of World War I. London: Southwater Books. ISBN 978-1-84476-377-1. 
  • Kaufmann, J. E.; Jurga, Robert M. (2002). Fortress Europe: European fortifications of World War II. Cambridge, MA: Da Capo Press. ISBN 0-306-81174-X. 
  • Lautenschläger, Karl (1973). "USS Mississippi (BB-23) Greek Kilkis". Warship Profile 39. Windsor, England: Profile Publications. pp. 49–72. OCLC 33084563. 
  • Paizis-Paradellis, C. (2002). Hellenic Warships 1829–2001 (3rd Edition). Athens: The Society for the study of Greek History. ISBN 960-8172-14-4. 
  • Paloczi-Horvath, George (1996). From Monitor to Missile Boat : Coast Defence Ships and Coastal Defence since 1860. London: Conway Maritime Press. ISBN 0-85177-650-7. 
  • Parramore, Thomas C.; Stewart, Peter C; Bogger, Tommy (2000). Norfolk: The First Four Centuries. Charlottesville, VA: University Press of Virginia. ISBN 0-8139-1988-6.