Athens, Greece—The Greek Navy SEALs are having an early Christmas. The US Navy just transferred four Rigid-Hulled Inflatable Boats (RHIBs) to its Hellenic counterpart. The RHIBs will be issued to the Hellenic Navy’s Underwater Demolition Command (DYK). DYK will utilize them according to operational needs.
“It was in the best interest of the United States to EDA grant these boats to the Hellenic Navy,” said Commander Matt Zublic, USN.
Wait, EDA, what’s that?
An Excess Defense Article (EDA) is how countries with poor economies get stuff from the United States. EDA is a program of the Foreign Assistance Act (FAA) of 1961. Two other programs, the Foreign Military Sales (FMS) and Foreign Military Financing (FMF), form the rest of the FAA. In plain English, when a branch of the US military deems an old piece of hardware as nonessential, it puts it up for auction–and then the fun begins. Allied and friendly nations file requests and vie for ownership. When the State Department decides who gets the materiel, it transfers it either at a reduced price or free in the form of a grant.
Powered by twin turbo diesel engines, the 11-foot long RHIBs will enhance the Greek SEALs capabilities. “They served the purpose of security patrols for the U.S. Navy, now they will do the same for the Hellenic Navy,” added Cmdr. Zublic.
In the USN, SWCC teams use RHIBs to covertly insert or extract SEALs. They can also be used as a platform for Visit Board Search and Seizure (VBSS) operations. RHIBs can fit eight SEALs plus three crewmen. They are quite mobile since they could be parachuted or attached underneath a helicopter.
The Aegean, the Greek SEALs’ main playground, is packed with islands. Island size varies, but geopolitical importance doesn’t. For example, in 1996 the Imia Crisis brought Greece and Turkey to the brink of war. SOF units from both countries occupied the same tiny island (more of a huge rock than an island). It was only with U.S. intervention and some second-guessing between the adversaries that war was averted.
For some years now, Turkey’s relationship with the West has been deteriorating. The Turkish military, for instance, just bought batteries of the S-400 antiaircraft system from Russia–a system that’s incompatible with similar NATO systems.
Adding four RHIBs to the Hellenic fleet may sound like nothing when you’re aiming at a 355 ship U.S. Navy, but they’ll make a difference to the Greek armed forces who have been short on funding.
Featured image courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.