The Hellenic Naval Academy has always been the cradle of systematic academic education and naval training of prospective Hellenic Navy Officers. In the brief history that follows the milestones in the historical course of the Academy from the establishment of the new Greek state to our times will be briefly mentioned.
First period of the establishment and operation of the Academy (1845-1854)
The beginning of the operation of the Hellenic Naval Academy dates back to the first decades after the National Restoration on 24th November 1845 aboard the corvette LOUDOVIKOS upon the decision of the 1821 sea-battle hero Admiral Konstantinos Kanaris, who was then Minister of Marine Affairs /Minister of the Navy. Unfortunately, from the very beginning there had been friction caused by a personality clash and different mentality between the Captain of the corvette Capt. Rafail and the Executive Officer, Lieut. Palaskas , both of whom were otherwise officers of great caliber. When the Ministry was informed of the problems that had arisen, it sought a solution by sending guidelines to the Captain and proceeding to the establishment of a Naval Institute under the administration of Lieut. Palaskas, a move that turned out to be fruitless. The granting of Lieut. Palaskas’ request that he be transferred led to the dissolution of the Naval Institute in 1854.
The Naval Academy aboard ATHENA, MESSOLONGI and ARES (1862-1884)
In November 1862 the provisional government, which was formed because of the abnormal political situation that followed King Otto’s fall and eviction, proceeded to the impromptu establishment of a Naval School aboard the steam frigate HELLAS. Lieutenant Commander Koumelas, who served at the Nafstathmos (Naval Base), was appointed Head of the School. However, the operation of the Naval School was suspended due to administrative problems. Seven months later aboard the brig ATHENA it was decided that the Naval School should resume its operation. Nevertheless, that period was characterized by serious organization deficiencies, closely related to the prevailing administrative, institutional and organizational disorder and instability of the Greek society in those times. Within this unstable framework, the Naval School was transferred to the corvette MESSOLONGI, formerly named LOUDOVIKOS, without there being room for serious organizational and administrative improvements. The Naval School stopped operating in September 1871 although there had never been a formal repeal. Ten years later, in 1882, a Naval School was re-established, this time aboard the ARES but in December 1884 it was dissolved due to the establishment of the Hellenic Naval Academy aboard the steam frigate HELLAS.
The Hellenic Naval Academy until 1905 (1884-1905)
The establishment or rather re-establishment of the Hellenic Naval Academy under its present name and form took place during Prime Minister Harilaos Trikoupis’office, whose governance was a period of true regeneration for the Navy, as it was for all the Armed Forces and the public sector in general. At that time Lieutenant Commander Kanellopoulos was assigned the task of drafting the requisite Organization and Operation Regulations of the Academy. After the setting up of the legislative framework, the Hellenic Naval Academy was established according to what had been defined and specified and in August 1884 the Academy was officially opened. Cases of sloppiness and disorder which had been inherent vices of the operation of the Naval School in the past were eliminated and the Academy reached remarkably high levels of organization and operation. The following year the headquarters of the Academy were established ashore. In 1888 the first Academy graduates were ranked Ensigns and since then have distinguished themselves for the high standard of their training. In May 1892 the headquarters of the Academy were transferred to the steam frigate HELLAS where it remained for 13 consecutive years.
The Academy in its permanent headquarters (1905-1911)
The relocation of the Academy ashore was accomplished in 1891 thanks to the bequest of the great national benefactor Pantelis Vassanis. Thanks to his generous offer the appropriate site for the construction of the three buildings—the Central Building that served as accommodation quarters, the Commandant’s and Deputy Commandant’s Residence and the Infirmary—that comprised the Academy was found. These three buildings still retain their original form despite the alterations made over time. In order to honor the national benefactor, the Academy was also called Vassanion Institution at that time.
The Academy during the Balkan Wars (1912-1913)
After the declaration of the first Balkan War in October 1912, the third-year naval cadets ranked as Warrant Officers were stationed on the Fleet and participated in warfare. After the end of the war they all returned to the Academy except for the hero Ioannis Pastrikakis, who fell for the fatherland during the liberation of the island of Chios from the Turkish yoke.
The Academy in 1913-1922
During this period the facilities of the Academy were expanded and the number of the training cadets was increased. The suggestion that the Academy be commanded by a British Royal Navy officer bearing the rank of Captain was rejected as it was made within a framework of conflicting interests, such as those of foreign Military and Naval Delegations that represented the strategic, political and diplomatic choices of opposing political parties of those times.
The Academy during the interwar period (1923-1940)
While the state and the society were going through a process of radical reconstruction after the inconceivable historical, political, geostrategic, geo-economic and cultural dimensions of Asia Minor disaster, the Hellenic Naval Academy focused on the qualitative improvement of its organization and education, and as a result new disciplines such as those of Engineers, Finance Officers, Port Officers and Shipbuilders were introduced. Moreover, education was provided to foreign prospective Naval Officers. A noteworthy event which had a positive impact on the development and operation of the Academy was the building of the sailing ship ARES as a training ship.
The Academy during the Second World War
Upon the declaration of the Greek-Italian War, the fourth-year and the Finance cadets were given the rank of Ensign, the third-year cadets were named Warrant Officers and the Port Officers were transferred to the Ministry of Mercantile Marine while the rest were on indefinite leave. A few days later the leave of the Naval Cadets was revoked and the Academy operated smoothly again only to revoke its operation once more upon the declaration of the Greek-German War. During the Triple Occupation the facilities of the Academy were used by the German Naval Command of South Aegean. The Academy was relocated aboard the legendary battleship AVEROF and operated again on May 17, 1942 but was later relocated in Alexandria, Egypt until the end of the war.
The Academy during postwar years
During the December events in 1944 the establishments of the Academy served as the Naval Fleet Headquarters from which an attack was repelled with a heavy death toll. The Academy resumed its operation on 5 November 1945 with many educational and facility deficiencies, which were gradually yet successfully overcome to a great extent by 1948. In 1962 the Academy undertook the duty of training and educating foreign cadets. In 1962 the Hellenic Naval Academy was awarded a Gold Medal by the Academy of Athens. In 1968 the Academy was promoted to a Supreme Educational Institution and in 2003-2005 the legislative framework of its operation was modernized. Since then the Hellenic Naval Academy has been training the prospective leading Officers of the Hellenic Navy, keeping alive and imparting unchanged the noble traditions of the Hellenic Navy and the Greek State.