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Souda Bay inlet

Souda Bay inlet, with the Izzeddin Fortress in the foreground.

Souda Bay is a major bay and natural harbour near the town of Souda on the northwest coast of the strategically important Greek island of Crete. The bay is about 15 km long and only two to four km wide, warm and a deep natural harbour. It is formed between the Akrotiri peninsula and Cape Drapano, and runs west to east. The bay is overlooked on both sides by hills, with a relatively low and narrow isthmus in the west near Chania.

Near the mouth of Souda bay, between the Akrotiri and the town of Kalives, there is a group of small islands with Venetian fortifications. The largest island is Souda Island, giving its name to the bay.

Souda Bay is now a popular tourist destination although there are no real public beaches due to the presence of the Crete Naval Station. Villages such as Megala Chorafia and Kalives afford fine views of the bay, and house-building, particularly for foreigners and tourist companies, is spreading along the bay.

NSA Souda Bay


Souda Air Base

Souda Air Base.
Category. Statistic.
Location. Greece.
Opened in. 1943 (?).
Closed in. Still open.
Operated by. USN, USAF and Hellenic (Greek) Airforce.
Owned by. American DoD and Greek DoD.
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SoudaBay chart

French nautical chart of Souda Bay in the 18th century.

There have been port facilities on the bay since ancient times, previously serving the Greek city of Aptera.

It was destroyed by the Saracens in the 820s AD.

The Venetians occupied the area in 1207. A more fortified Venetian port was built in the location.

The Venetians fortified Souda Island between 1570 and 1573, in order to protect the area from Ottoman raiders and pirates. In 1571 an Ottoman military force landed at Souda and caused major destruction in the Chania area. Pirates attacked it in the 15th, 16th and 17th centuries.

The Venetians managed to hold on to the strategic islands within Souda Bay until 1715, over thirty years after the fall of Crete to the Ottomans.

In 1822 an Egyptian army of approximately 10,000 under Hassan Pasha landed at Souda to defeat the Cretan Revolution of 1821.


Souda Bay from Aptera-64-graeme

Photo of the fortress with the Souda Bay in the background.

After the Cretan Revolution of 1866–69, the Ottomans built fortresses at Aptera (Aptera Fortress) and Kalami (Izzeddin Fortress), barracks, a military hospital and a naval base. They also built the town of Souda at the head of the bay, as the new port of the nearby city of Chania. The fortress at Kalami is still in use as prisons. The naval base was officially inaugurated in 1872, in the presence of Sultan Abdul Aziz.

The Izzeddin Fortress (Greek: Φρούριο Ιτζεδίν; Izzeddin means "Glory of the Faith") is an Ottoman fortress in Souda Bay, Crete, near the village of Kalami, best known for its role as a prison for political prisoners in 20th-century Greece.

The fortress was established by the then Ottoman governor of the island, Rauf Pasha, in 1872, and named after the son of Sultan Abdülaziz. Already under the Cretan State (1898–1913) it was used as a prison, and continued so when Crete passed under Greek rule, until 1950. It was particularly notorious as a site of imprisonment for political prisoners, especially during the dictatorship of Theodoros Pangalos (1925–26) and the Greek Civil War. Its occupants included Eleftherios Venizelos in 1903 and the deposed dictator Theodoros Pangalos in 1926–28. After 1950 it passed under the jurisdiction of the Hellenic Navy. Today it is a protected landmark and a site for cultural events.






Cold War

The airbase is in Souda Bay near the Hellenic Navy's Crete Naval Station,which also houses the NATO Maritime Interidiction Operational Training Centre; the Hellenic Air Force's Souda Air Base on Akrotiri Peninsula, base of the 115th Combat Wing; and the NATO Missile Firing Installation. It is physically located on the large, circular shaped Akrotiri Peninsula, which forms the northern face of the Souda Harbor. It is near the village of Mouzouras, 17 kilometers (approximately 10 miles) east of the city of Hania. It is approximately 110 acres in size. From the late 1950’s through the 1960’s American Advance Aviation Base (AVB) ships were frequently deployed to Souda Bay to help protect Greek and Turkish waters.

Advance Aviation Base (AVB) ships were created to provide fuel, spare parts, technicians and facilities necessary to establish and operate an airstrip for patrol and carrier aircraft in locations where there were no base facilities.

U.S. Naval Detachment, Souda Bay was was replaced by U.S. Naval Support Activity, Souda Bay on the 1st of October, 1980.

The staff, in 2017, were 20 officers, 300 enlisted personnel, 100 U.S civilians and 200 contractors (both U.S. nationals and local Greeks).


Post Cold War


A timeline of ownership

  1. Apteran Greeks- 7th Century BC.
  2. Anciant Greece- anciant Greek era
  3. Rome- Roman era AD.
  4. Byzantium- Part of the Byzantine era.
  5. Saracens- Some time in the 820s.
  6. Byzantium- Part of the Byzantine era.
  7. Venice- 1207-1571.
  8. Ottomans- 1571.
  9. Venice- 1571-1715
  10. Ottomans- 1715-1821.
  11. Creat- 1821.
  12. Egypt- 1822.
  13. Creat- 1866-1869.
  14. Egypt- 1869-1898.
  15. Creat- 1898-1913.
  16. Greece- 1913-1941.
  17. Nazi Germany- 1941-45.
  18. Greece- 1945 to date.

Soviet and Bulgarian invasion plans for Creat

In the early 1960s


Also see

  1. Navy
  2. Ballistic missiles, missiles and military rockets
  3. Noteworthy Air bases


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