Greek destroyer Vasilefs Georgios
Vasilefs Georgios - ΒΠ Βασιλεύς Γεώργιος
|Namesake:||King George I of Greece|
|Launched:||3 March 1938|
|Commissioned:||15 February 1939|
|Fate:||scuttled in April 1941|
|Name:||Hermes (ZG 3)|
|Commissioned:||21 March 1942|
|Fate:||scuttled on 7 May 1943|
|Displacement:||1,414 tons standard|
|Length:||97.5 m (320 ft)|
|Beam:||9.7 m (32 ft)|
|Draft:||2.7 m (8.9 ft)|
|Speed:||35 knots (65 km/h; 40 mph) maximum|
|Range:||4,800 nautical miles (8,900 km) at 19 knots (35 km/h; 22 mph)|
Vasilefs Georgios (Greek: ΒΠ Βασιλεύς Γεώργιος) was a Greek destroyer, the lead ship of its class, which served with the Royal Hellenic Navy and Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine (under the name Hermes) during the Second World War. The ship was named after King George I, and was the second ship to bear this name.
In Greek service
Built by Yarrow & Company (Scotstoun, Scotland) along with her sister ship Vasilissa Olga, she was the most modern ship of the Greek Navy at the outbreak of the Second World War, serving as the flagship of the Destroyer Flotilla. During the Greco-Italian War she operated on convoy escort duty and participated in the first and third naval raids against Italian shipping in the Strait of Otranto (14–15 November 1940 and 4–5 January 1941).
On 14 April 1941 during the German invasion of Greece, while anchored in Sofiko Bay in the Saronic Gulf, she was attacked by German aircraft and suffered severe damage. Under the command of her captain, Commander P. Lappas, she managed to reach the Salamis Naval Yard where she was dry docked. However, due to the rapid German advance and the inability of repairs to be completed on time, she was finally scuttled to prevent capture.
In German service
The Germans nonetheless were able to raise and repair her, and commissioned her into the Kriegsmarine as Hermes (ZG 3) on 21 March 1942. She was a well-esteemed ship, and used as the flagship of the German Aegean flotilla, serving mainly in convoy escort duties, under Kapitän zur See Rolf Johannesson. On 16 November 1942 near Cape Kafireas one of these convoys came under attack by the Greek submarine Triton and resulted in the sinking of Triton by one of the escorting vessels.
From April 1943, under Fregattenkapitän Curt Rechel, she was employed in escorting convoys to Tunisia. There she had a success, sinking the British submarine HMS Splendid on 21 April. Ten days later however, she was attacked by Allied aircraft off Cape Bon, resulting in 23 dead and heavy damage. She was towed to La Goulette, and scuttled there on 7 May, as the Allies entered Tunis.
- Commander Pyrros Lappas: 15 February 1939 - 23 April 1941
- Fregattenkapitän Rolf Johannesson: 8 February 1942 – 25 March 1943
- Fregattenkapitän Curt Rechel: 25 March 1943 – 7 May 1943
Both German commanders were awarded the Knight's Cross of the Iron Cross for their service.
- Deutsche Zerstörer, p.128
- Whitley, M. J. (1988). Destroyers of World War Two: An International Encyclopedia. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 0-87021-326-1.
- Summary of the ship's history from the Hellenic Navy website
- Short article in the German Naval History page
- Short summary from the Württembergische Landesbibliothek
- Elfrath, Ulrich. Deutsche Zerstörer, 1934-1945 (in German). Podzun-Pallas Verlag. ISBN 3-7909-0161-X.