The Hellenic Navy minehunter HS Kallisto was cut in two in a collision with a container ship today. The collision occurred off the coast of Piraeus, in the Saronic Gulf.
The collision occurred around 7:30AM local time, with the HS Kallisto colliding with the John T. Essberger-owned, Portuguese-flagged Maersk Launceston boxship shortly after the HS Kallisto departed Salamis Naval Base. The Maersk Launceston hit the stern of the 27-meter Kallisto, tearing off part of its stern. Flooding from the damage resulted in the Kallisto taking on a severe list.
The Greek newspaper Proto Thema has published exclusive photos of the immediate aftermath of the collision, with multiple small vessels on scene searching for crew members that may have fallen into the water.
Fortunately, all 27 crew members aboard at the time survived the collision, albeit with minor injuries to two crew members. Skai TV news reported that four crew members were rescued from the water by the Greek Coast Guard.
The Greek Navy has since made the following statement to Proto Thema:
On Tuesday, October 27, 2020 and around 07:30 in the sea area of the Saronic Gulf, a merchant ship collided with NTHI KALLISTO. The Navy is undertaking all necessary actions to handle the incident.
The HS Kallisto is now being towed back to port, with the collision now under investigation. Photos and videos of the scene do not appear to show the stern section that was cut off in the collision.
The HS Kallisto was formerly the HMS Berkeley, a Hunt-class mine countermeasures vessel. The Hunt-class vessels have fiberglass hulls. She was commissioned in 1988, taking part in mine clearance operations in the Persian Gulf following the 1991 Gulf War. She was sold to the Hellenic Navy in 2001, upon which she was renamed HS Kallisto.
With the extent of the damage to Kallisto, it’s highly likely that she is beyond repair. A sad fate for any ship, but fortunately none of her crew was lost in the incident.
The British Ministry of Defense has been looking to sell the ex-HMS Atherstone, another Hunt-class ship since June 2020, however, she has been extensively stripped since her decommissioning in 2017, including removal of her engines. Purchasing the ex-HMS Atherstone as a straight replacement would seem like an obvious solution for the Hellenic Navy, but is complicated by the amount of refitting that will be required for her to become usable as a minehunter.