(Harry Cotronis served aboard the Sactouris after the USS Arnold J. Isbell had been renamed and turned over to the Greek Navy. Harry had intended to deliver this speech in person at the 2006 reunion, but a series of travel SNAFUs sadly prevented his appearance there.)
Ladies and Gentlemen, Dear Shipmates,
Please allow me to introduce myself. My name is Harry Cotronis and I am one of the Greek Navy crew members who took over the Isbell right after it was decommissioned and transferred to the Greek Navy.
First of all, I would like to thank you all for offering me this great opportunity to participate in the reunion. It really is an honor for me to be back here again after 32 years, 20 days and 12 hours. I would also like to thank our Shipmates Dan Davis and Barry Dahlberg for their efforts in making this reunion a success.
We are here in honor of the USS ARNOLD J. ISBELL, the ship that we all served with pride and honor. I guess we all are familiar with her history in the U.S. Navy so please let me brief you now on what happened to her after her decommissioning on Tue. Dec. 4th 1973 at Long Beach, and her transfer to the Greek Navy under the name of H.S SACHTOURIS.
We left Long Beach to San Diego on Dec. 5th, 1973, and spent almost 10 months here giving the boat a complete face lift both in and out. All of her systems and weaponry were completely overhauled and soon the boat was looking almost brand new again.
The maintenance works and sea trials ended up and the boat was ready to sail to Greece. So, our mooring lines were pulled away from this quay wall and the ISBELL left her home port for a last time on Sun. Sept. 15th 1974, at 22.00 hours. It took us exactly 35 days to get back home after stopping at Manzanillo Mexico, Rodman Panama, San Juan Porto Rico, Sao Miguel Azores and Cartagena Spain.
Upon arrival to Salamis Naval Station in Greece the ISBELL was immediately assigned the flag ship of the Greek Navy Fleet and participated in lots of major Greek and NATO exercises in the Mediterranean.
In January 1976 the boat was drydocked at the Greek National Ship Yards for modernization purposes and amongst other major projects a rapid fire 5”mount was installed on her drone deck. The ship was put back in commission later in the same year and continued her vital peacekeeping role in the area till Oct. 31st, 1992, when she was decommissioned for a last time after having served for almost half a century in two allied Navies for the sake of peace and freedom around the world.
It is true that the ISBELL does not exist anymore. However, she will always live in our hearts and we shall keep on chipping her and painting her forever more.
God bless our Nations
God bless our Navies
God bless us all