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Greek trireme sails to Olympics

- by Jeremy Guest

Greek trireme sails in for Olympics.

Visitors to the 2012 Olympic Games will get a taste of that summer break in the Greek Islands when a replica ancient Greek warship goes on display in London. The trireme 'Olympias' is a reconstruction of an ancient warship that was used to help the ancient Greeks defeat the Persian armies in Salamis around 2,500 years ago.

The full-scale, working replica of the legendary 170-oared Athenian trireme of the 5th century BC is to go on display in London during the 2012 Olympic Games taking place in the city this summer.

This will be the ship's second appearance in the British capital. It also went on display in 1993 at an exhibition in London to celebrate 2,500 years since the birth of democracy.

After its display in London, the Greek ship will embark on a tour of the United States, organised by the company International Advantage Corporation in collaboration with the Hellenic Navy and the defence ministry.

Completed in July 1987, the 'Olympias' is 37 metres long, 3,7 metres wide and has a 1.3-metre draught. Its construction was based on plans first drawn up by British naval architect John Coates and the historian J. S. Morrison.

This is not the warship's first association with the Olympic Games. It was also used in the 2004 Olympic Games in Athens as part of the torch relay to bring the Olympic Torch to Piraeus.

The high maintenance costs forced the Greek authorities to put the trireme into dry dock in 2005 where it has remained ever since as a part of a Naval Museum.

After appearing in London, the Trireme Olympias will be transported to the United States, and will go on display in the historic York Town before beginning its tour of Norfolk and Jamestown, Virginia. It will also visit Annapolis in Maryland and will then be the centrepiece of the US Navy's 236th birthday celebration in Washington DC.

It's final stop will be New York City, where the tour will finish with a send-off gala to be held on Veterans' Day. The ship's tour is intended to portray the trireme 'Olympias' as a symbol of democracy and freedom.