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Greek battleship Salamis

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Greek battleship Salamis illustration.png
Illustration of Salamis had she been completed during World War I and taken over by the Imperial German Navy
Royal Hellenic Navy ensignGreece
Ordered: 1912
Laid down: 23 July 1913
Launched: 11 November 1914
Fate: scrapped 1932
General characteristics
Displacement: 19,500 t (19,200 long tons; 21,500 short tons)
Length: 569 ft 11 in (173.71 m)
Beam: 81 ft (25 m)
Draft: 25 ft (7.6 m)
  • 18 Yarrow-type boilers
  • AEG turbines
  • 3 shafts
  • 40,000 shp
Speed: 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph) maximum
  • 8 × 14-inch (356 mm) guns (4 × 2)
  • 12 × 6-inch (152 mm) guns in casemates
  • 12 × 75 mm (3.0 in) guns
  • 5 × 500 mm (20 in) torpedo tubes
  • Belt: 3.875–9.875 in (98.4–250.8 mm)
  • Deck: 2.875 in (73.0 mm)
  • Barbettes: 9.875 in (250.8 mm)
  • Turrets: 9.875 in (250.8 mm)

Salamis (Greek: Σαλαμίς or Σαλαμινία) was a dreadnought battleship ordered for the Greek Navy from the AG Vulcan shipyard in Hamburg, Germany in 1912. She was ordered in response to Ottoman naval expansion begun in 1911. The ship was to have been 569 feet 11 inches (173.71 meters) long, armed with eight 14-inch (356 mm) guns, and have had a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph). Salamis was named after the Greek naval victory over a Persian fleet at the battle of Salamis in 480 BC.

Work began on the keel on 23 July 1913, and the hull was launched on 11 November 1914. Construction stopped in December 1914, following the outbreak of World War I in August of that year. The German navy employed the unfinished ship as a floating barracks in Kiel. The armament for this ship was ordered from Bethlehem Steel in the United States and could not be delivered due to the British blockade of Germany. Bethlehem sold the guns to Britain instead and they were used to arm the four Abercrombie-class monitors. The hull of the ship remained intact after the war and became the subject of a protracted legal dispute. She was finally awarded to the builders and the hull was scrapped in 1932.


General characteristics[edit]

Salamis was 569 feet 11 inches (173.71 m) long at the waterline, and had a beam of 81 ft (25 m) and a draft of 25 ft (7.6 m). The ship was designed to displace 19,500 t (19,200 long tons; 21,500 short tons). Had the battleship been completed, she was to have been powered by three AEG turbines, each of which drove a propeller shaft. The turbines were supplied with steam by 18 Yarrow boilers. This would have provided Salamis with 40,000 shaft horsepower and a top speed of 23 knots (43 km/h; 26 mph).[1]


The primary armament of the ship was eight 14 in (35.6 cm) /45 caliber guns mounted in four twin-gun turrets. Two turrets were to be mounted in a superfiring arrangement forward of the main superstructure, with the other two mounted similarly aft of the funnels.[1] These guns had a rate of fire of between 1.25 and 1.75 rounds per minute; they were capable of firing 1,400 lb (640 kg) armor-piercing or high-explosive shells. The guns were estimated to be able to fire 500 rounds before wear on the barrels would necessitate repair. The shells were fired at a muzzle velocity of around 2,500 feet per second (762 m/s); at elevation of 15°, the guns could hit targets out to 19,900 yards (18,200 m). At a range of 12,000 yd (11,000 m), the shells were expected to penetrate up to 13 inches (33 cm) of armor plate.[2]

The ship's secondary battery was to consist of twelve 6 in (15.2 cm) /50 guns mounted in casemates amidships, six on either side.[1] These guns fired 105 pounds (48 kg) projectiles at a rate of about 6 per minute. The shells were fired at a muzzle velocity of 2,800 f/s (853 m/s), and had a range of 15,000 yards (14,000 m) at 15°.[3] Salamis's armament was rounded out by twelve 75 mm (3.0 in) quick-firing guns, also mounted in casemates, and five 50 cm (20 in) submerged torpedo tubes.[1]


Salamis had an armored belt that was 9.875 in (250.8 mm) thick in the central section of the ship, where it protected critical areas, such as the ammunition magazines and machinery spaces. On either end of the ship, past the main battery gun turrets, the belt was decreased to 3.875 in (98.4 mm) thick; the height of the belt was also decreased in these areas. The main armored deck was 2.875 in (73.0 mm) in the central portion of the ship, and as with the belt armor, in less important areas the thickness was decreased to 1.5 in (38 mm). The main battery gun turrets were protected by 9.875 in-thick armor plate on the sides and face, and the barbettes in which they were placed were protected by the same thickness of armor. The conning tower was lightly armored, with only 1.25 in (32 mm) worth of protection.[1]

Construction and cancellation[edit]

An early version of the ship's design

In the run-up to the Balkan wars of 1912–1913, the Ottoman Empire—Greece's traditional naval rival—set about modernizing its fleet. The first component was the order of the dreadnought Reşadiye in 1911. The expansion of Ottoman naval power threatened Greek control of the Aegean; to counter the Ottoman dreadnought, Greece decided to order a ship as well: the Salamis.[4] The new battleship was ordered from the German shipbuilder AG Vulcan, based in Hamburg, in 1912. This made Greece the fourteenth and final country to order a dreadnought battleship.[4] The initial design called for a ship 458 ft (140 m) long with a beam of 72 ft (22 m), a draft of 24 ft (7.3 m), and a displacement of 13,500 t (13,300 long tons; 14,900 short tons). The ship was designed with 2-shaft turbines rated at 26,000 shp for a top speed of 21 knots (39 km/h; 24 mph). The armament was to be six 14 inch guns in twin turrets, eight 6 inch, eight 3 in (7.6 cm), and four 37 mm (1.5 in) guns, and two 45 cm (18 in) torpedo tubes. The design was revised several times; by 23 January 1912, it was finalized with the details specified above. The ship was to be delivered to the Greek Navy by March 1915, at a cost of £1,693,000.[1] Scientific American remarked that the ship would "not mark any particular advance in warship design, being, rather, an effort to combine the greatest defensive and offensive qualities with the least cost."[5]

Line drawing of Salamis's final design

The keel was laid down on 23 July 1913; the hull was complete and ready for launching by 11 November 1914, the day the ship entered the water. The main battery and secondary guns were sub-contracted to Bethlehem Steel in the United States. However, the outbreak of World War I in August 1914 had drastically altered the situation; the naval blockade of Germany emplaced by Great Britain meant that the guns could not be delivered. Work was halted on 31 December 1914.[6] By this time Greece had only paid AG Vulcan £450,000.[1] Bethlehem refused to send the main battery guns to Greece.[6] The 14-inch guns were instead sold to the British, who used them to arm the four Abercrombie-class monitors.[1] The incomplete vessel was towed to Kiel, where she was used as a barracks ship.[7]

After the end of the war, the Greek navy refused to accept the incomplete hull, and AG Vulcan sued the Greek government in 1923. A lengthy arbitration ensued.[1] The Greek navy alleged that the ship was obsolete and that under the Treaty of Versailles it could not be armed by the German shipyard. The dispute went before the Greco-German Mixed Arbitral Tribunal (established under Article 304 of the Treaty of Versailles), which dragged on throughout the 1920s. In 1928, concerns at the impending recommissioning of the Turkish battlecruiser Yavuz (ex-SMS Goeben), whose refit had just begun meant that Greece considered responding positively to an offer from Vulcan to reach a compromise, one option being to complete and modernize Salamis.[8] On 23 April 1932 the arbitrators determined that the Greek government owed AG Vulcan £30,000, and that AG Vulcan would be awarded the hull. The ship was broken up for scrap in Bremen that year.[1] A second Greek dreadnought, the Vasilefs Konstantinos, a slightly modified version of the French Bretagne-class battleship, met a similar fate. Like Salamis, work on Vasilefs Konstantinos was halted by the outbreak of the war in August 1914, and in the aftermath the Greek government refused to pay for the unfinished ship as well.[4]


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Gardiner & Gray, p. 384
  2. ^ DiGiulian, Tony (25 February 2009). "Britain 14"/45 (35.6 cm) Marks II, IV and V". Retrieved 18 December 2009. 
  3. ^ DiGiulian, Tony (15 August 2008). "United States of America 6"/50 (15.2 cm) Mark 6 and Mark 8". Retrieved 18 December 2009. 
  4. ^ a b c Sondhaus, p. 220
  5. ^ Reprinted in Journal of the United States Artillery, 252.
  6. ^ a b Warren, p. 160
  7. ^ Underwood, p. 1501
  8. ^ Fotakis, pp. 376–378


  • DiGiulian, Tony. " Naval Weapons, Naval Technology and Naval Reunions". Bucks County, Pennsylvania. 
  • Fotakis, E. (2010). "Greek Naval Policy and Strategy, 1923-1932". Nausivios Chora: a Journal in Naval Sciences and Technology: 365–393. 
  • Gardiner, Robert; Gray, Randal, eds. (1984). Conway's All the World's Fighting Ships: 1906–1922. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-907-3. 
  • Underwood, H. W. (1920). "Professional Notes". Proceedings - United States Naval Institute. 46 (9): 1493–1539. 
  • Barnett, MK (March–April 1915). "Recent German Naval Construction". Journal of the United States Artillery. 45 (2): 247–52. 
  • Sondhaus, Lawrence (2001). Naval warfare, 1815-1914. Routledge. ISBN 978-0-415-21478-0. 
  • Warren, Kenneth (2007). Industrial genius: the working life of Charles Michael Schwab. Pittsburgh: University of Pittsburgh Press. ISBN 978-0-8229-4326-6.