Georgios Averof (1910)

Georgios Averof at the 1937 Spithead Naval Review. She performed much better at this one. British Ministry of Information photo.

Nation
Ship Class
Ship Type
Laid Down
1907
Launched
1910
Commissioned
1911
Decommissioned
1952
AD/BC
AD
History

The Γεώργιος Αβέρωφ, or if you don't read Greek, the Georgios Averof, is an armored cruiser of the Pisa class, launched 12 March, 1910. Originally laid down for the Italian Navy, she was cancelled while under construction, and purchased by the Greeks. Averof was rushed into service, and embarrassed herself while visiting England for King George V's coronation. She ran aground at Spithead requiring drydocking, the crew got into brawls with the locals, and they nearly mutinied because they were unfamiliar with blue cheese. She went on to make up for it, distinguishing herself in the Battles of Elli and Lemnos during the Balkan Wars. At Elli, 3 December, 1912, she outran the rest of the Greek fleet, and single-handedly crossed the T of the Turks, mauling their flagship, and forcing them to retreat. Oh, did I mention that that was the first time she had fired her guns? As in ever? Gunnery practice had been restricted due to ammunition shortages. These battles made Averof and her commander, Rear Admiral Pavlos Kountouriotis, legends to the Greeks, and earned her the nickname Devil Ship from the Turks. Averof was confiscated by the French during World War I, along with the rest of the Greek Navy, and only returned when Greece entered the war. Averof went on to see action in the Greco-Turkish war of 1919-22, and underwent a major overhaul and reconstruction in France from 1925-27. After Germany invaded Greece in 1941, Averofs crew refused orders to scuttle her, and instead sailed first to Crete, and then to Egypt. Averof went on to aid the Allies, running convoy escort in the Indian Ocean in 1942-43. She returned to Greece, and continued to serve as flagship until she was decommissioned in 1952. Averof sat around until 1984, when she was made a museum ship at Palaio Faliro, in southern Athens. She received a major overhaul in 2017, allowing her to return to seaworthy status, though she has not sailed under her own power since 1952. There are hopes to restore her engines to running order.