Greek destroyer Leon

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Greek destroyer Leon.jpg
Destroyer Leon
History
Greece
Name: Leon (ΒΠ Λέων)
Namesake: lion
Ordered: 1912
Builder: Cammell Laird, Birkenhead
Laid down: 1911
Launched: 1 July 1911
Commissioned: 1912
Decommissioned: 15 May 1941
Fate: sunk at Souda Bay, Crete 1941
General characteristics
Class and type: Wild Beast-class destroyer
Displacement: 880 tons standard
Length: 89.4 m (293 ft)
Beam: 8.3 m (27 ft)
Draft: 3 m (9.8 ft)
Propulsion:
  • 5 × Foster Wheeler boilers (4 coal-fired and 1 oil-fired), replaced by Yarrow oil-fired boilers in 1925
  • 5 funnels
  • combined Parsons and Curtis steam turbines
Speed: 31 knots (57 km/h) maximum (32 knots (59 km/h) after 1925)
Complement: 58
Armament:
  • As completed:
  • 4 × Bethlehem 4-inch (102 mm) guns
  • 1 × 75 mm anti-aircraft gun
  • 6 × 21-inch (533 mm)torpedo tubes
  • 3 × electric search lights
  • 1925:
  • 75 mm gun removed
  • 37 mm anti-aircraft gun added
  • four-barrel 40 mm gun added
  • 2 mortars added
  • Modified for laying 40 mines
  • 1942:
  • 3rd and 4th stern torpedo launchers removed
  • 1 × 3-inch (76 mm) anti-aircraft gun added
  • 1 × 20 mm Oerlikon gun added
  • A/S type 123A detection device added

Leon (Greek: ΒΠ Λέων, "Lion") was a Wild Beast-class destroyer which served in the Royal Hellenic Navy from 1912–1941.

Origin[edit]

The ship, along with her three sister ships Aetos, Ierax and Panthir was ordered from England. They were purchased ready for delivery, each for the sum of £148,000, from the British shipyard Cammell Laird in Birkenhead, when the Balkan Wars seemed likely. These ships had originally been ordered by Argentina; Leon was originally named Tucumán.

Service history[edit]

During the Balkan Wars, the Royal Hellenic Navy purchased only the minimum amount of ammunition, 3,000 rounds. Torpedoes were not available for this class of ship, and for this reason these ships were initially named 'scouts' rather than 'destroyers'. Leon was in action during the Balkan Wars under Lieutenant Commander J. Razikotsikas, also on board was Squadron Commander Lieutenant Commander D. Papachristos.

During World War I, Greece belatedly entered the war on the side of the Triple Entente and, due to Greece's neutrality the four Wild Beast-class ships were seized by the Allies in October 1916, taken over by the French in November, and served in the French Navy from 1917-18. By 1918, they were back on escort duty under Greek colors, and was in action blockading the coasts of the Black Sea from Bosphorus up to Trebizond.

On 22 December 1921, while moored with Ierax in Piraeus harbour they were both severely damaged by the explosion of a depth charge which the crew of Leon was transporting. Two officers, one petty officer and two sailors were killed on Leon and two sailors on Ierax. Leon completely lost her aft section up to her stern gun.[1]

After the war, Leon was refurbished from 1925–1927. She also participated in the Second World War, On 18 April 1941, during a convoy escort, she collided with the passenger ship Ardena followed by the explosion of two depth charges. As a result, her stern section was cut off and two officers were killed. She was finally sunk by German bombers on 15 May 1941, in Souda Bay (Crete) where she had been towed from Salamis Naval Base.

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