By John Carr
Built at Livorno in 1910, the 10,000-ton RHNS Averof had the distinction of being the flagship, and by far the biggest warship, of the Royal Hellenic Navy until 1951. More than a century after its construction, she is still afloat, one of just three armoured cruisers still in existence in the world.
Originally intended for the Italian navy, the ship was bought by Greece and soon saw her first action in the Balkan Wars. In the Battle of Cape Helles (3 Dec 1912) Averof inflicted heavy casualties on the Turkish fleet, following it up with a victory in the Battle of Lemnos (5 Jan 1913). In the 1920s the ship underwent a major refit in France, which included modernizing her armament by replacing her obsolete torpedo tubes with more anti-aircraft guns. When the Germans overran Greece in World War Two, Averof made a dramatic escape to Alexandria, dodging attacks by the Luftwaffe, despite Admiralty orders that she be scuttled.