Crete, the largest of the Greek islands and the cradle of Minoan civilisation, is strategically placed midway between Europe, Asia, and Africa. As a result, it has often been invaded over the centuries: first by the ancient Greeks, and then by Romans, Byzantines, Muslims, Venetians, and Ottomans. It became a part of Greece in 1913, and was a battleground during the second world war.
There are still clear traces of this long history, both in myth – Minos, Daedalus, Icarus, the labyrinth – and in the landscape, with the spectacular ruins of Knossos, Cyclopean walls, Venetian castles, and many other historic fortifications protecting the island’s coast. Today, its strategic importance is reinforced by the NATO naval airbase of Suda Bay, managed by the Greek navy.
This is the biggest of its kind in the Mediterranean, and the only base with waters deep enough to host US aircraft carriers, NATO naval squadrons, and submarines. It also has a busy airport nearby.
The base is used for routine training, and its location also plays a key role in numerous international missions. The naval base alone is over 500 hectares in area, and employs several thousand military personnel. Its population temporarily expands every time a ship passes through: one of the world’s largest aircraft carriers, the USS George H.W. Bush, increases it by 3,200 naval and 2,500 airforce personnel.
The ships are supplied from a maze of huge warehouses and offices, and mountains of pallets and containers. And appropriately for Crete, the home of the Minotaur, you’ll also find an Icarus here! The Greek navy uses an Icarus 40.14 for numerous daily handling and maintenance tasks. Some 280 ships dock at Suda each year and are refuelled and stocked with everything they need to remain at sea for long periods.
The materials are transported from various warehouses to the wharf, where deck winches load them into the vessels’ holds. Waste from the voyage must also be unloaded, since it is illegal to dispose of this in the sea.
In an operational base like Suda, everything must work perfectly, from the simple flagpoles at the entrance to the huge radar antennae.
So, every item of equipment undergoes constant and thorough maintenance – another task for the high-tech Icarus 40.14. This offers a wide range of attachments including winches, forks, baskets, buckets and clamps, and the cab’s high-powered air conditioning makes it popular with operators, since Crete gets very hot in the summer.
The Icarus is doing a great job at Suda, and we like to think that Greek navy chose it not just for its high quality, but also for its name, with its links to Cretan history. And for what it’s worth, we’d like to point out that our catalogue also includes a Dedalus, a Pegasus, a Hercules, and a Zeus!