Hydra (F452) is a guided-missile frigate of the modern Hellenic (Greek) Navy and represents the lead ship of its class of four. The type is based in the German-designed and built MEKO 200 series by shipbuilder Blohm und Voss. The MEKO 200 was developed during the 1980s when there was still a Cold War being fought between East and West, resulting in some twenty-five of the class being built in all - and all actively serving today (2020) with a variety of global players including Greece, Australia, Turkey, and South Africa.
For the Hellenic Navy, the Hydra-class entered commissioned service in 1992 and all four warships remain in service, these being Hyrda (F452) herself and sisters Spetsai (F453), Psara (F454), and Salamis (F455).
Despite its long-running coastlines, Greece fields a rather modestly-sized water force that includes submarines, frigates, fast attack craft / gunboats, and support ships. The surface fleet is led by the Hydra class and this force is backed by the contributions of the Elli-class numbering nine. While the latter was modernized from 2004 to 2009, the Hydra-class is currently (2020) undergoing modernization for rising threats in the Mediterranean - namely its neighbor Turkey.
Hydra (F-452), named after Hydra Island, was launched to sea on June 25th, 1991 and formally commissioned for active service in 1992. She is a 3,350 ton warship with a running length of 384 feet, a beam of 49 feet, and a draught of 20 feet. Power is through a COmbined Diesel-Or-Gas (CODOG) arrangement designed to be fuel efficient - allowing use of either marine diesels or gas turbines depending on the required action (dashing, cruising). The twin-shaft arrangement consists of 2 x MTU 20V955 diesel engines developing 10,040 horsepower and 2 x General Electric LM2500 gas turbines rated for up to 60,656 horsepower. This provides the vessel with a headway speed of up to 31 knots out to a range of 4,100 nautical miles when cruising at 16 knots on the diesel pair.
Aboard is a complement of 173 sailors charged with various duties. The ship also carries a bevy of sensors and processing systems that includes the Signall MW08 air-search radar, the Signaal DA08 air-surface radar, and 2 x Signall STIR fire control radars. The Racal Decca 2690 BT serves as the navigation air while the SQS-56/DE by Raytheon is the hull-mounted sonar fit. The ship is outfitted with the SLQ-25 "Nixie" torpedo decoy system for self-defense. Electronic Warfare (EW) systems include the Argo AR700 ESM and Telegon 10 series ESM systems.
At the heart of the warship is its armament suite which is broad to better handle a variety of at-sea, undersea, and over-water threats at range. The collection of weapons is a mix of projectile- and missile-based offerings led by the single Mk 45 Mod 2A turreted deck gun mounting a useful Dual-Purpose (DP) 127mm automatic gun. 2 x Mk 141 "Harpoon" quadruple launchers are carrier for the anti-ship role. The Mk 48 Mod 2 launcher allows the ship to fire off up to 16 x RIM-162 "Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile" missiles against medium-ranged aerial threats. The 2 x 20mm Mk 15 "Phalanx" units serve as a last-ditch air defense weapon covering the Close-In Weapon System (CIWS) role. Rounding out the suite are 2 x 324mm (13in) Mk 32 Mod 5 torpedo tubes which can counter the threat posed by surface and undersea threats.
The profile of the warship is consistent with 1990s ship design. This includes minimal protrusions, a chined, uninterrupted hull line, and raised bow. The forecastle is home to the turreted main gun and one of the two Phalanx defensive weapons is positioned on a stage just aft. Aft of this is the beginning of the bridge superstructure which contains the main mast - seating the lattice-style mast work home to the various radars and communications arrays. The superstructure continues aft to the low-profile, enclosed smoke funnels at midships - this location also seats the secondary mast and Harpoon missile launchers. Aft of this is the remainder of the hull superstructure which houses a full-service helicopter hangar with attached helipad over the stern. The second Phalanx unit is positioned over the hangar.
The ship can support the Sikorsky S-70B-6 "Aegean Hawk" navalized helicopter (or similar). These are outfitted with their own submarine / ship hunting equipment and can further extend the "eyes and ears" of the vessel.
Hydra began operations with the Hellenic Navy in January of 1993, completing her first official sail with the service. To date, it has led a relatively quite existence until May of 2020 when it journeyed out of her berth at Salamis during Operation Irini - the UN operation designed to keep arms from entering war-torn Libya. Unspecified damage meant that Hydra did not participate - Spetsai going in her place.