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18 Mart 2010 Perşembe

Greece to resell German submarine: minister

Greece to resell German submarine: minister

Greece hopes to earn some 350 million euros (480 million dollars) by reselling a German-built submarine whose delivery was dogged by technical concerns, the Greek defence minister said on Wednesday.

"The Germans are pricing the Papanikolis submarine at 300 million, let us calculate 350 million without being over-optimistic," Defence Minister Evangelos Venizelos told a news conference.

Athens in 2006 had refused to accept delivery of the submarine built by German contractors ThyssenKrupp after Greek Navy inspectors declared it defective during test runs off the port of Kiel.

But Venizelos on Wednesday insisted that "improvements" had been carried out at ThyssenKrupp's HDW shipyards and that the Greek Navy was now prepared to declare the vessel seaworthy.

"This is what (the Navy) have told us, this is what they will tell Greek parliament as well," he said

He added: "This discussion about a listing submarine which we are trying to sell... is harmful to the public interest."

Greece in 2000 had ordered four new 214-class submarines and an overhaul for three of its older 209-class submarines from HDW. Most of the order was to have been carried out at Hellenic Shipyards near Athens, which were acquired by HDW in 2002, three years before it merged with ThyssenKrupp.

Athens has already paid out 2.03 billion euros on the project out of a total estimated cost of 2.84 billion in current prices with nothing to show for it, the minister said.

Venizelos on Wednesday said plans to overhaul two of the older submarines would now be scrapped and that two new submarines would be ordered instead at a cost of 500 million euros apiece.

The Greek government, struggling with a debt crisis and facing a huge effort to restructure the economy, hopes that the submarine deal will smooth the way for ThyssenKrupp to shed 75 percent of its stake in the struggling Greek shipyards to the Abu Dhabi Mar group.

It has said the sale offers a chance to save the jobs of 1,300 workers.

Venizelos also said another "major" project to purchase French frigates would also be carried out.

"A difficult and long negotiation at state and commercial level is ongoing (on the issue)," he said.

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