The Destroyer Velos D-16 is a floating museum, operated by the Hellenic Navy, and focusing on the struggle of the Greek people against the military junta.
The Destroyer Velos D-16, is one of two floating museums owned by the Hellenic Navy. It is also, to my best knowledge, the only museum in the wider Athens area to focus on the period of the dictatorship in Greece.
The Hellenic navy even go as far as describing it as an anti-dictatorial museum. Which is interesting, as this is an area of Greek history not as well known as the rich ancient history of Greece.
Destroyer Velos D-16 Floating Museum
During my mission of visiting every museum in Athens, one period of history became noticeable by its absence. This was the period of the dictatorship in Greece from 1967-1974.
Sometimes known as the Greek Military Junta, or the Regime of the Colonels, no matter where I looked, I couldn't find an official museum dedicated to this period in history. Until I visited the Destroyer Velos D-16 that is!
The Destroyer Velos D-16 is a floating museum, currently anchored at Faliro Bay, Athens. Operated by the Hellenic Navy, it focuses on the struggle of the Greek people against the military junta which lasted from 1967 to 1974.
The Destroyer Velos played an important part in this struggle, and the mutiny of its crew in 1973 arguably helped to weaken the grip of the junta.
About the Destroyer Velos
The Destroyer Velos D-16 didn't start off life in the Hellenic Navy. It was originally a U.S. naval destroyer (USS Charrette DD-581) during World War II, seeing naval combat in the Pacific.
After the war, it was placed out of commission, before being given to Greece in 1959. It was renamed the Destroyer Velos D16 (the word Velos being Greek for ‘arrow').
After entering service with the Hellenic Navy, the ship took part in practically every Greek naval exercise, including NATO exercises. On the 25th of May 1973 though, the captain and crew mutinied in protest against the military junta.
Destroyer Velos Anti-Dictatorial Museum
The Velos floating museum serves two purposes. The first purpose, is that the public can walk around the decommissioned destroyer, and see for themselves the layout of the ship, and imagine what life on board was like.
The galley and laundry areas are open to the public, as well as a control room and other areas. At the time of my visit, it was not possible to go below decks to see the bunk-rooms or ship's magazine.
The second purpose of this floating museum, is to describe the importance the Destroyer Velos played in the anti-junta movement. In the Captains Cabin, there are a number of photographs and other documents which describe the events of the mutiny.
The (much abbreviated!) version of the story is this – The Destroyer Velos was participating in a NATO naval exercise, when on the 25th of May 1973, Commander Nikolaos Pappas anchored the Velos at Fiumicino, Italy, and refused to return to Greece.
The reason for this, is that the captain and other officers had recently discovered that fellow naval officers had been arrested by the ruling Greek military junta and tortured.
Commander Pappas was a member of a secret organisation of military officers opposed to the junta, and had hoped the movement would remove the regime.
With the arrest and torture of several organisation members though, Pappas came to the conclusion that he had to make a bigger statement to change global public opinion about the junta. This would put on additional pressure from the outside.
The plan worked, as many international newspapers started to question the legitimacy of the ruling junta because of the action that Pappas took.
It also weakened the control of the junta, and was one of several key moments which hastened its demise. Military rule ended almost a year later, on the 24th of July, 1974.
My thoughts on the Destroyer Velos Floating Museum
Discovering that this museum focused on the dictatorship period made me genuinely excited! I fully understand why this period of history is not talked about much in Greece, but it bugged me I hadn't found a museum focusing on it until now.
The Destroyer Velos does that by describing an important event that eventually led to the end of the junta regime. There are plenty of local newspapers from this period displayed, which will definitely be of interest to Greeks.
It is certainly a museum that every Greek should visit, and anyone interested in modern Greek history and naval warships will also love it. You might also find the Athens War Museum to be of interest.
Important note – There are not many signs in English. I would suggest taking along a Greek speaking friend, or consulting the internet on your phone as you walk around in order to really benefit from your visit.
The Destroyer Velos is about 6km from central Athens, in Faliro Bay. This is quite close by to Marina Flisvos, where I recently took a three island day cruise. You can reach the bay using a combination of metro and tram. Alternatively, a taxi ride from the centre will cost about 10 Euros.
Open: M,T,W,T,F: 09:00-13:00 & M,W,F: 18:00-20:00S,S: 10:00-14:00 & 18:00-20:00
You might want to call them first though to check if it is open when you wish to visit – Tel: +302109888211
More Athens Museum Guides
Planning a trip to Athens? You might also want to read about these other museums in the city:
- Acropolis Museum
- Archaeological Museum of Kerameikos
- Epigraphical Museum
- Museum of Cycladic Art
- Museum of the Ancient Agora + Stoa of Attalos
- National Archaeological Museum of Athens
- Numismatic Museum of Athens
- Syntagma Metro Station Archaeological Collection
- Byzantine and Christian Museum (of Athens)
- Benaki Museum -Main Building
- Eleftherios Venizelos Historical Museum
- Jewish Museum of Greece
- Museum of the City of Athens
- National Historical Museum of Greece (Old Parliament House)
- Ilias Lalaounis Jewelry Museum
- Museum of Greek Folk Art
- Museum of Popular Music Instruments
- Frissiras Museum
- The Herakleidon Museum in Athens – Annex Building
- Museum of Engravings and Graphic Arts
- Haridimos Shadow Puppet Museum
- Municipal Gallery of Athens
- Museum of Children's Art in Plaka
- National Glyptotheque
- National Museum of Contemporary Art, Athens
- Technopolis Industrial Gas Museum
- Museum of the Athens-Piraeus Electric Railways
- Greek armored cruiser Georgios Averof
- Tactual Museum of Athens
- Hellenic Motor Museum
- The Bath House of the Winds (Annex of the Museum of Greek Folk Art)
- Museum on Panos Street (Annex of the Museum of Greek Folk Art)
- Ai Stratis Political Exile Museum
- Makronisos Political Exile Museum
- Museum of Greek Gastronomy
- The Museum of Islamic Art in Athens (Benaki Museum in Kerameikos)
Dave is a travel writer originally from the UK, and now living in Greece. In addition to creating this guide about the Velos Destroyer Museum, he's written many other guides about Athens and destinations in Greece. Follow Dave on social media for travel inspiration from Greece and beyond: