RHNS Averoff - Thunder in the Aegean, John Carr

RHNS Averoff - Thunder in the Aegean, John Carr

RHNS Averoff was the pride of the Greek fleet during the Balkan Wars, an armoured cruiser superior to anything in the Ottoman fleet. When built she had a speed of 22.5kts, and was armed with four 9.2in guns in twin turrets fore and aft and eight 7.5in guns in twin turrets, two on each side. When built she was a powerful weapon, but as with so many warships of the period she was made obsolescent by the appearance of the all-big gun HMS Dreadnought. Luckily for the Greeks the Ottoman Empire didn't have any dreadnoughts, so the Averoff was able to play a significant role in the fighting during the First Balkan War.

Unusually for a ship history, that effectively ended her time as a first rate warship. During the First World War the seas around Greece were dominated by the far more powerful British and French navies, while the former German battlecruiser Moltke, given to the Ottomans early in the war, also outclassed her. By the time the Second World War broke out she was almost obsolete, although she did perform some valuable service as a convoy escort, and provided anti-aircraft firepower.

The first half of this book covers the most important part of the ship's military career, from her construction to the end of the Greco-Turkish War. The second half looks at the less impressive part of her career, when her officers took part in a seemingly endless succession of military coups and sinister military governments while the lower ranks supported a mix of political groupings. The author tends to side with the officers in these disputes, which continued on into the Second World War and saw a large part of the crew mutiny in Alexandria, much to the annoyance of the British authorities - here officers take part in revolts, crewmen are ill-disciplined, when in reality there is nothing more ill disciplined than taking part in a coup.

This is an interesting book, as much for the insights into the woeful Greek politics of the period as for its more traditional naval aspects, although they do include decent accounts of the ship's main battles and some excellent photographs.

1 - Rush Job
2 - The Wine-Dark Sea
3 - Birth of the Averof
4 - Young Turks, Old Ships
5 - The Ship that Won a War
6 - Sailing to Byzantium
7 - Refit and Revolt
8 - To Fight Another Day
9 - Indian Summer
10 - Retirement and Rats
11 - Comeback

Author: John Carr
Edition: Hardcover
Pages: 144
Publisher: Pen & Sword Maritime
Year: 2014

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