Greece starts defence purchase talks with France


January 23, 2009 -- The Greek defence minister, Evangelos Meimarakis has indicated that the Government Council on Foreign Affairs and National Defense (KYSEA) has given the “green light” for the MoD to proceed with negotiations with France for the purchase of six FREMM type frigates as well as 15 Super Puma search and rescue helicopters.

The Hellenic Navy has a long-standing requirement for a new class of air defence frigates, and an interest in principle towards a modified version of the Franco-Italian FREMM frigate design has been known for several years. The Minister’s announcement, however, indicates that the programme is now to proceed to the negotiating phase.

The Greek government intends for all six ships to be built in Greece with French technical assistance, which however does pose a particularly intriguing problem. The only shipyard in Greece which is currently capable of building frigate-size warships is Hellenic Shipyards in Skaramanga, which however happens to be owned 100% by the German TKMS concern. For Hellenic Shipyards to become responsible for the Greek FREMM programme, it would require for France’s DCNS to be willing and prepared to transfer all their designs, building technologies, costing procedures and so on to their bitter rival TKMS – a very unlikely proposition to say the least.

The only way out this conundrum would be for the Greek Government to appoint the other naval shipyard in Greece, Eleuysis Shipyards as the main contractor for the FREMM programme. Eleuysis however cannot currently build ships larger than a corvette, and thus would need to be expanded at a significant cost. Alternatively, the government could perhaps try and “convince” TKMS to sell Hellenic Shipyards back to the State or another private investor. (

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