By doing business with all three major powers, the USA, Russia, and China, Hellenism’s prominent “Ecumenical” foundation, Shipping, proved once again to be the nation’s guiding beacon and Ark… The Shipowners (the ancient Greek word is “Εφοπλιστές”) were always, even etymologically, related to the defense of Greece: this is one of the least changed in meaning Greek words in three millennia!.. And so in this report, we will refer to them as Shipowners with a capital “S”… This report does NOT aim to “romanticize” the Shipowner’s role but simply to explain their significant influence in determining Greece’s and Hellenism’s geopolitical position. 

By Nick Stamatakis

Helleniscope has often referred to navigation as one of Hellenism’s four “Ecumenical” foundations (the other three are the Diaspora, Orthodoxy, and Cultural Heritage). Because of its central role in defining Hellenic national identity since the mythical times of Odysseus, I consider navigation the most important of these four foundations.  When it comes to defining Greece’s geopolitical role, the “Shipowners” have repeatedly proven to be the leaders of Greece and Hellenism.

In this short but inclusive report, I will limit myself to the more recent trends since the dawn of the 21st century. I will prove with a few examples the Shipowners’ tremendous role in defining Greece’s geopolitical positions, especially when dealing with the three major powers of our day, USA, Russia, and China.

Let me start with the story of American shale gas production and Greek LNG shipowners. “Greek ships will carry American LNG to reduce Russian imports to Europe”, says a headline since last year, with the beginning of the Ukraine war.  But it doesn’t tell the whole story, which started with planning at least 10-15 years earlier at the beginning stages of the American shale oil and gas boom.  Each LNG ship costs, on average, $200 million, a significant investment.  Without planning, which in our case means geopolitical analysis and precise projections for decades ahead, developing a massive fleet of 135 Greek-owned LNG ships would not be possible (out of a total of about 600 such ships worldwide).  My point is that these Greek shipowners have these abilities in their DNA.  Over 3,000 years of history, including the most historical confrontations between West and East, have left their mark on them… And so, they developed their plans with the oil and gas giants of Texas and, I assume, with the consent of the political powers of Washington DC and especially the State Department. And the necessary support of Wall Street: About 50 Greek shipping companies are listed in NASDAQ!!

The Chinese acquire the Port of Piraeus.

For the past twenty years or more, the Shipowners have intensified their – consistently strong – relationship with the Chinese.  At a time when many Shipowners were building their ships in Chinese shipyards to take advantage of cost savings (and cheap loans…), China was looking for faster routes to Europe.  It did not take long before (2008) the Chinese state-owned company COSCO acquired a majority stake in the port of Piraeus, raising eyebrows across the Atlantic.

One of the first questions an insider of the DC establishment asked me a few years ago concerned the Port of Piraeus and stated: “It’s wrong that Greece allowed the Chinese to buy it,” he said.  But he was stunned by my answer: “I was born there, went to school there, and my family still lives there, about a 10-minute walk from the port.  For decades the Port was dominated by communist labor unions.  The real choice for the Greeks was between Communist China and the (Greek) communist labor unions who had run the port to the ground after decades of corruption and malpractice.  They chose China and it was the right choice.”

From another standpoint, giving Piraeus to China was a rare instance of wide agreement across all political parties.  Such unity is rarely seen in Greece and usually happens when the nation faces an outside enemy, like the Turks or the Germans.  The reason for national unity on this occasion was none other than the unifying element of the Shipowners, who control a large part of the media and the political elites/families of Greece.

And yes, it was the right choice.  A few years after the Chinese took over, Pireaus became the first port in the Mediterranean. The city was extensively developed despite the financial crisis that led Greece to bankruptcy.  There is another way to look at this if, like me, you are against (western) hegemonic practices: In about 200 years of British first and then American dominance in Greece, Piraeus was just a humble “Levantine”  port.  In ten years of Chinese investment, it became a powerhouse. This realization might have motivated the American establishment to invest in Greece lately.  In recent years big companies like Google, Microsoft, Pfizer, and Tesla established research and other facilities in the country -not to mention the oil giant EXXON MOBIL that started oil exploration south and west of Crete (these are just a sample of American companies investing in Greece – there are others…)

The Shipowners and Russia: A match made in History’s Heaven…

And finally, we turn to the Shipowners’ connection with Russia, which after the end of the Cold War, was developed beyond description, as the Soviet merchant fleet was no more.  If you ever talked to any Greek seaman (shipowner or officer or plain sailor) about how the Russians generally viewed and treated them, there is only one word to describe this relationship: brotherly.  The feelings are, of course, mutual.  And this is why since the start of the war in Ukraine up to …yesterday, there is no shortage of stories about Greek shipowners doing business with Russia, openly or mischievously. It’s not simply that trade with Russia is lucrative. It is much bigger than that.

First, the Shipowners are astute political realists and will NOT tolerate hypocrisy by the puppets who run Europe and DC. These puppets pretend that they impose “sanctions” on Russia. A closer look into “sanctions” proves that Europe still today imports almost the same amounts of oil products from Russia, but at a premium; these products come to Europe through third countries like China, India, or Turkey, which profit from these nonsensical sanctions.

Second, the Shipowners have it in their DNA to run through “embargoes”… Breaking the “Iran embargo” by the Shipowners is a notorious historical example.  Greece benefited tremendously: Today, Greece still buys Iranian oil on credit!! They pay three months after delivery and this was an immense help during the difficult last ten years!! During the oil crisis of the 1970s, thanks to the Shipowners, Greece got oil from Saudi Arabia at the lowest price at the time!! A few years ago, the State Department had to employ special “tools” to stop the Shipowners from breaking the embargo against Venezuela…

This attitude is engrained in the Greek DNA… When the Shipowners hear “embargo,” they understand two things: first, political “hypocrisy” and geopolitical power games and, second, “profit.”  Let me underline here that the Greek Revolution was funded mainly by the tremendous wealth the Shipowners gained by breaking the British blockade of Marseilles in 1806 and after.  Just a few decades earlier, Russian Czarina Catherine the Great allowed the Greeks to raise the Russian flag on their ships and so to gain protection against the Ottomans… As a result, the Greek Revolution of 1821 was overwhelmingly the outcome of Shipowners’ wealth and their initiatives. The heroic actions of Greek ships during the revolutionary war are legendary…

The case of Thanassis Martinos, Mount Athos Civil Supervisor, and Russia…

Thanassis Martinos and his two brothers are prominent Shipowners, with each of the brothers running his own company.  Thanassis Martinos, a close friend of the Mitsotakis family (I can name quite a few Shipowners close to this and other political families in Greece – they are naturally leaning to the right and the center), was appointed the Civil Administrator to Mount Athos.  Mr. Martinos, an Archon of the Patriarchate, had, of course, the wholehearted approval of Pat. Bartholomew, and he was said to be Bartholomew’s pick.  Despite all kinds of Byzantine Emperors’ “stamps” and even the Constitution of Greece (all guaranteeing the Holy Mountain’s independence), the Patriarch always wanted to expand his largely symbolic “rule” on the Holy Mountain. At the same time, as we all know (now more than ever), the Patriarch, since the end of WW II, has been functioning as a political arm of the State Department.

You can imagine, therefore, the surprise of Patriarch Bartholomew and his handlers at the State Department (i.e., Karloutsos et al. ) when, after the beginning of the Ukraine War, Thanassis Martinos and his two brothers did not hesitate one minute to declare their willingness to continue doing business with Russia, despite sanctions and all other hypocrisy coming out of the West.  The American Embassy, if I recall, sought to limit Mr.Martinos’ authority by asking the Mitsotakis government to install another (lower) official at Athos. In essence, the three Martinos brothers had no choice: most of their ships were tankers.  They would likely face serious financial problems if they lost the Russian market.


Because of its history, unique geographical location between three continents, and seafaring tradition, Greece has had and needs to maintain peaceful, working relations with all powers/countries. The Shipowners, consciously or instinctively, genuinely express these existential interests. Using their financial power, they force the usually corrupt Greek politicians in the right direction. And they continued Hellenism’s peaceful cosmopolitanism as opposed to one thousand years of Western hegemonic and war-waging “civilization” (Crusades, Colonialism, Imperialism). But to this last point, we shall return soon.



Those of you who understand Greek can enjoy Mr.Martinos’ speech at Delphi economic forum in 2018, where you can easily detect his philosophy. I have translated some important parts for the rest of you.

In the second video, you can taste a real Shipowner, Mr.Martinos, explaining his family history, essentially Hellenism’s history (with English subtitles).

In his speech at the Delphi forum in 2018, Thanasis Martinos had stated that “most of the export of oil and petroleum products from Russian ports to EU countries is handled by Greek tankers”. However, continuing his speech, he added, “I should,” he noted, “also point out a negative parameter for Greek shipping companies.”

The negative parameter, according to Martinos, was that, as he literally said, “some political decisions of the E.U. affect the flexibility of Greek shipowners”. What were these political decisions? But of course, the sanctions against Russia as well. In fact, Thanasis Martinos had emphasized, speaking about the above political choices, that these are mainly “the policy of sanctions usually dictated by the USA against countries such as Russia, Syria, Iran” and which “preclude some important markets for the Greek ships”.

Concluding his historic speech, Martinos said: “Russia is important for Greek shipping. Modern Russia no longer has a national fleet. Russia relies heavily on Greek ships for oil and gas exports. Russians are our best customers. I believe and hope that Russia will be a member of the EU after some years. Russia is important for the energy of European countries. With the integration of Russia, the European federation will become a real superpower.”

Martch 3, 2023, n.stamatakis@aol.com www.helleniscope.com

DISCLAIMER: The views and statements expressed in this article constitute constitutionally protected opinions of this author.


  1. Σωστή και πολύ εμπεριστατωμένη τόσο η τοποθέτηση όσο και η περιγραφή. Επειδή και άλλες φορές μου έκαναν την ερώτηση:
    “ Ποιά είναι η διαφορά μεταξύ πλοιοκτήτη και εφοπλιστή” η διαφορά που υπάρχει έχει ως κάτωθι: Πλοιοκτήτης: είναι ο κύριος ιδιοκτήτης του πλοίου το εκμεταλλεύεται. Συνδιασμός κυριότητας και εκμετάλλευσης, γι’αυτό για ένα
    μεγάλο χρονικό διάστημα , από την γέννηση της ναυτιλίας μέχρι τον Β’ παγκόσμιο πόλεμο ο όρος εφοπλιστής ήταν σχεδόν ανύπαρκτος και κυκλοφορούσε μόνο ο όρος πλοιοκτήτης. Ο πλοιοκτήτης αγαπούσε το πλοίο όπως το σπίτι του και τα πληρώματά των πλοίων τα θεωρούσε οικογένειά του και στις οικογενειακές ανάγκες βοηθούσαν με δωρεές η ακόμα και με άτοκα δάνεια. Σήμερα οι παραδοσιακοί πλοιοκτήτες αν
    υπάρχουν θα είναι μετρημένοι στα δάχτυλα.
    Εφοπλιστής : Είναι το πρόσωπο που εκμεταλλεύεται μόνο το πλοίο ενός άλλου. Κύριος πλοίου είναι το πρόσωπο που έχει το εμπράγματο δικαίωμα της κυριότητας του πλοίου
    χωρίς την εκμετάλλευση , δουλειά την οποίαν κάνει ο εφοπλιστής. Οι σχέσεις του εφοπλιστή με το πρόσωπο η πρόσωπα η εταιρείες που έχουν την κυριότητα του πλοίου- πλοίων , διέπονται με
    συμβάσεις σύμφωνα με το ναυτιλιακό δίκαιο στο οποίο ειδικεύονται νομικοί, οι οποίοι αναλαμβάνουν οποιαδήποτε υπόθεση που έχει σχέση με το πλοίο. Το γεγονός πως ο χώρος της
    ναυτιλίας εισήλθε στο χρηματιστήριο δεν είναι τυχαίος, είναι αποτέλεσμα του ότι επενδύθηκαν τεράστια κεφαλαια από διάφορα funds στην ναυτιλία που ανεβάζει το κέρδος και περιορίζει
    το ρίσκο της χασούρας που μοιράζεται σε όλους τους κατέχοντας μετοχές.

    Γεγονός είναι πως όλοι οι επενδυτές ενδιαφέρονται περισσότερο για το κέρδος και όχι από αγάπη προς τον Ελληνισμό και αν η Ελλάδα και οι Έλληνες εφοπλιστές κρατούν τα σκήπτρα
    στο παγκόσμιο ναυτιλιακό κράτος, είναι γιατί η σχέση του ανθρώπου με την θάλασσα ξεκίνησε από την Ελλάδα. Οι Έλληνες ήταν βαπτισμένοι στη θάλασσα , και η θάλασσα ήταν πάντα αρωγός
    και εν Ειρήνη και εν πολέμω. Εάν ο Οδυσσέας κατάφερε εκείνη την εποχή να επιστρέψει στην Ιθάκη, σημαίνει πως αυτός ο χώρος που περιβάλλεται από μια θάλασσα στολισμένη από τη φύση με τόσα πολλά μαργαριτάρια( νησιά) δεν μπορεί παρά να γεννά συνεχώς Οδυσσείς που έχουν την δυνατότητα και την ικανότητα να δρούν και πέραν των Ηρακλειδών στηλών κατακτώντας ολόκληρο το υγρό αλμυρό κομμάτι του πλανήτη μας. Αυτό μου είχε πει ένας Αμερικανός Καπετάνιος στο Providence του Rode Island που ήταν port captain της American oil co και ήμουν τότε υποπλοίαρχος με το tanker της εταιρείας Χανδρή και ξεφορτώναμε fuel. Πριν μεσολαβήσει η ρύση του είχαμε μια κόντρα οι δυό
    μας επειδή το πλοίο δεν ξεφόρτωνε γρήγορα και εγώ του έλεγα πως οι αποθήκες που πήγαινε το πετρέλαιο ήταν μακρυά , ενώ στην πραγματικότητα είχαμε κλείσει το ένα από τα δυό καζάνια για να κάνουμε επισκευές και ο ατμός με το ένα δεν ήταν αρκετός για τις αντλίες. Ο λόγος που το κάναμε ήταν για να μην χάσουμε χρόνο από την χρονοναύλωση που θα στοίχιζε πολλά χρήματα για την εταιρεία. Αφού τον έπεισα
    πως το πρόβλημα ήταν η απόσταση και όχι οι αντλίες τον κάλεσα για φαγητό και πάνω στην κουβέντα μου είπε όλα αυτά τα ωραία. Το όνομά του ήταν Captain Philips.
    Οι ιστορίες σαν και τούτη που ξελασπώναμε …. τους πλοιοκτήτες- εφοπλιστές αμέτρητες.
    Η συμβολή των Ελλήνων ναυτεργατών και αξιωματικών στην ιστορία της Ελληνικής ναυτιλίας ΟΓΚΩΔΗΣ γι’αυτό ο Οίκος του Ναύτη θα έπρεπε να ήταν ένας Οργανισμός δισεκατομμυρίων ….., που να αγκαλιάζει και να
    ακουμπά τις οικογένειες ναυτικών που υποφέρουν και να σπουδάζει δωρεάν τα παιδιά τους. Ας ταξιδέψουμε νοερά σε όλους τους Ωκεανούς και τις θάλασσες στον βυθό των οποίων
    αναπαύονται αμέτρητα αδέλφια μας, να τους ρίξουμε μια ματιά και να τους ευχηθούμε μέσα από τα βάθη της ψυχής μας την καλήν των νεκρών ΑΝΑΣΤΑΣΗ.

    • YES I AM VERY SURE… You are telling me the same lie that I have heard a million times – that the Greek shipowners should pay more taxes than the limited amount that they do. If I had a poll – and I may do it here soon – the overwhelming majority of this audience would answer with a BIG NO. Why? Because any government would find ways to destroy this industry through taxation if they had the power to do so. And let me be clear: SHIPOWNERS ARE NATURAL ENEMIES OF GLOBALISM FOR THAT SPECIFIC REASON. And many foreign powers – top among them the Germans (whose shipping industry was annihilated by the previous financial crisis of 2008-9 and their ships were bought by Greeks for pennies on the dollar) salivate on the prospects of destroying the Greek Shipowners. Their answer is always the same to all these self-serving powers: “We will get in our boats and go elsewhere!! WE WILL ALWAYS BE FREE!!”


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