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Greek Merchant Marine

Greek merchant marine
Shipping industry
ProductsLNG and LPG ships, Cargo Ships, Tankers, Container ships, and Bulk carriers
Greek Merchant Navy flag used between 1822 and 1828
State and Merchant ensign since 1828, with minor changes made throughout the years.

The Hellenic Merchant Marine refers to the Merchant Marine of Greece, engaged in commerce and transportation of goods and services universally. It consists of the merchant vessels owned by Greek civilians, flying either the Greek flag or a flag of convenience. According to Lloyd's List,[1] in 2015, Greece was the first ship owner country in the world in terms of tonnage with a total DWT of 334,649,089 tons and 5,226 Greek owned vessels. Greece is a maritime nation by tradition, as shipping is arguably the oldest form of occupation of the Greeks and a key element of Greek economic activity since the ancient times. Today it is the second largest contributor to the national economy after tourism. The Greek fleet flies a variety of flags, however some Greek shipowners gradually return to Greece following the changes to the legislative framework governing their operations and the improvement of infrastructure.


Greece is a maritime nation by tradition, as shipping is arguably the oldest form of occupation of the Greeks and has been a key element of Greek economic activity since ancient times.[2] The Greeks continued to be involved and play a major role in shipping during the Byzantine period as well as during the Ottoman period, and Greek ships could be found especially in the ports of the eastern Mediterranean.

In 1860s and after the War of Independence, the financial crisis saw some of these businesses collapse[3] Nonetheless, the tradition of endowment continued, and it was shipping that funded institutions such as the National Library of Greece.

During the Second World War the Greek shipping companies were seen operating in the Allied areas and placing their fleets under control of the British Merchant Marine.

After the end of World War II the Greek-run fleets were able to re-establish themselves under their national flag. The changing dynamics saw them more closely aligned to their own national state, and the establishment of the Greek Merchant Marine service.

Development in Asia

Greek firms have managed to capture the expansion of Asia, particularly China. It is mostly the dry bulk shipping firms that have benefited from the development, since iron ore and coal are the two major resources that are required for a country's infrastructure to be taken to the next level.

Since 2000, China has provided lucrative contracts both on the spot, and time charter market for dry bulk shipowners. As a result, many new shipping tycoons were created.

Hellenic Merchant Marine Rank Insignia of Bridge or Deck - Officers

Hellenic Merchant Marine Rank Insignia of Engineer Officers

Engineer Officers use exactly the same Rank Insignia as Bridge officers. The only difference is that "in between" the golden stripes, the color is not black but dark red. In some cases, dark purple has been used, however dark purple refers usually to Electrician Officers. Engineer Officers come from the same Merchant Marine Academies as Bridge Officers. After graduation from the Marine Academy Bridge Officers undergoing a series of rigorous training in order to specialize for specific types of ships that they are about to serve on board (LNGC, LPG, VLCC, Dry Cargo, Suezmaxes, Ro/Pax, ULCC etc.) and to meet the stringent requirements of International Conventions (SOLAS, STCW, MARPOL etc.) and Companies Managing Systems. Some of the training includes (but not limited to) the following: Advanced Oil/Gas/Chemical Tanker Training, ECDIS, ISM, ISPS, Heavy Weather Navigation, Cargo Control Systems and Procedures, Navigation Deck Simulators, Electronic Navigation Systems, Integrated Navigation Systems (INS), Radio Communications, Dynamic Positioning Systems (DP), Passage Planning and Procedures etc. All of the above training takes place in Private Marine Education Centers approved by the Hellenic Government and internationally by the IMO. All other Officers found on board Hellenic Merchant Marine Vessels, come from Universities and other higher education institutes.

Other Officers that serve on board Hellenic Merchant Marine vessels are: Economic Officers, Electricians, Doctors and Radio Officers.

  • note that the highest ranks that can be obtained in the Hellenic Merchant Marine are the Captain and the Chief Engineer and both officers come from the Merchant Marine Academy.

No other type of officer can reach these ranks.

Rank exceptions

There are two more ranks that can be found on Hellenic Merchant Marine vessels, namely Staff Captain and Staff Chief Engineer. Both these ranks can be found only on passenger and cruiser-pleasure yachts. These officers assist the Captain and the Chief Engineer in turn while both have acquired the Diploma of Captain and Chief Engineer. However, they have a smaller service record and wait for their turn for the top of the line rank.


Hellenic Merchant Marine Officers get their promotions after a 2 years service period from 2nd Officer rank to Chief Officer rank and after 6 months of studies and exams at the KESEN center. KESEN stands for Center of Further Education and Training of Masters and Officers.

To become Captain is 3 years sea service period and 6 months of studies and exams at the KESEN center.

All other Officers are promoted after evaluations from the Ship Owning Company.


Traditionally Greek shipping has been run as a family business, with family members located in key ports or in key positions, and in the past with marriages cementing relationships between commercial dynasties. These close-knit families have allowed financially sensitive information to be kept within the local community, with many transactions kept within trusted family networks. Some historic shipping families include:

From the 18th century:

19th century:

The twentieth century saw more Greek shipping magnates established, including:

Contemporary (21st century) shipowners include also:

Greek shipping companies

Some notable Greek shipping companies include:

See also


  1. ^ "Lloyd's List Top 100 Most Influential People in the Shipping Industry. Edition 6, page 61". Lloyd's List. Retrieved 22 December 2015.
  2. ^ Polemis, Spyros M. "The History of Greek Shipping". Retrieved 9 April 2007.
  3. ^ Depredations: Overend, Gurney & Co and the Greek and Oriental Steam Navigation Company, by 'Stefanos Xenos' (1869)

External links