The German Navy – The Way Forward?

One of the largest fleets in NATO, the Ger­man Navy appears to have escaped most of the recent cuts imposed by the government’s aus­ter­i­ty plan, since con­struc­tion of the new ves­sels and upgrades for exist­ing plat­forms seems to con­tin­ue. How­ev­er, the planned reduc­tion of 60 per­cent in its defense bud­get could have neg­a­tive effect in the future, if the gov­ern­ment decides to press on with the cuts. To con­tin­ue oper­at­ing under these restrict­ed bud­getary con­straints the Navy may have to reduce its mis­sion sets, whilst assum­ing a reduced ‘asym­met­ric’ role focused on counter-pira­cy, peace­mak­ing and peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions, rather than full scale, high inten­si­ty oper­a­tions.

This arti­cle is pub­lished with the kind per­mis­sion of “Defense Update

 -
RBS15 Mk3 is the main sur­face offen­sive weapon car­ried on the new K130 mis­sile corvette

In addi­tion to tak­ing part in cur­rent NATO activ­i­ties the Ger­man Navy deploys rou­tine­ly at the Baltic Sea and is tak­ing part in many inter­na­tion­al oper­a­tions, includ­ing peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions, secu­ri­ty and counter pira­cy activ­i­ties, as far as Africa and the Indi­an Ocean. In total, there are about 90 com­mis­sioned war­ships in the Ger­man Navy includ­ing 43 aux­il­iary ships; the total dis­place­ment of the navy is 220,000 tons. In addi­tion to this, the Ger­man Navy and the Roy­al Dan­ish Navy are in coop­er­a­tion in the “Ark Project”. This agree­ment made the Ark Project respon­si­ble for the strate­gic sealift of Ger­man armed forces where the full-time char­ter of three roll-on-roll-off car­go and troop ships are ready for deploy­ments. In addi­tion, these ships are also kept avail­able for the use of the oth­er Euro­pean NATO coun­tries. The three ves­sels have a com­bined dis­place­ment of 60,000 tons. Includ­ing these ships, the total ships’ dis­place­ment avail­able to the Deutsche Marine is 280,000 tons.

 -
F219 Sach­sen, the lead F124 class frigate ger­man navy fires an ESSM air defense mis­sile.

The Ger­man Navy oper­ates two flotil­las, the sur­face fleet which includes 15 frigates of three types and Type 212 subs, with a squadron of ten fast mis­sile boats oper­at­ing in the Baltic sea. In recent years the Ger­man Navy went through major mod­ern­iza­tion, with the field­ing of the F‑124 class frigates, K130 corvettes and Type 212 sub­marines, all local­ly built by the Blohm & Voss, Lürssen, ThyssenK­rupp Marine Sys­tems (TKMS) and Howaldtswerke Deutsch­land Werct (HDW) ship­yards.

The seem­ing sta­bil­i­ty does not reflect years of decline in new orders, which almost brought the HDW sub­ma­rine builder to a stand­still and drove TKMS to sell most of its naval and com­mer­cial sur­face ship­build­ing assets to the UAE in 2009. The com­pa­ny agreed to estab­lish a “close strate­gic part­ner­ship” and Mem­o­ran­dum of Under­stand­ing with the Abu Dhabi MAR (ADM) group in the Unit­ed Arab Emi­rates. The pro­posed sale fol­lowed relat­ed pur­chas­es in Ger­many by Abu Dhabi MAR, and oth­er recent ship­yard sales by TKMS. The net effect was a restruc­tur­ing of Germany’s naval ship­build­ing indus­try.

The envi­sioned agree­ment involved a 50/50 joint ven­ture to build naval sur­face ships, with TKMS retain­ing a lead role and know-how in all projects with the Ger­man Navy and NATO part­ners, while ADM was respon­si­ble for the Mid­dle East and North Africa. At the same time, how­ev­er, Abu Dhabi MAR would acquir­ing 80% of TKMS’ key sur­face ship firms: Blohm and Voss Ship­yards, Blohm and Voss Repair, and Blohm and Voss Indus­tries. That deal has large­ly fall­en through in 2011, leav­ing TKMS naval assets “in play” again.

Today, the Ger­man Navy main­tains two oper­ates 15 frigates of three types – the Bre­men (8), Bran­den­burg (4) and Sach­sen class (3), which is also the newest (F124 class) air defense frigates. In Novem­ber 2011 Ger­many laid the keel of the first of four F125 next gen­er­a­tion frigates ‘stealth design’, like­ly to be one of the world’s largest class of frigates with a dis­place­ment in excess of 7,200 tonnes, expect­ed to enter ser­vice in 2016 in time to replace the first Bre­men class frigates. Although the crew is to be reduced to 120 sailors, instead of the planned 235 crew, the ves­sels will oper­ate with the “two crew con­cept”, as the ves­sel is capa­ble of long endurance at sea. Com­ple­tion of the F125 fleet is antic­i­pat­ed by Decem­ber 2018.

The Ger­man frigates car­ry MBDA MM-38 Exo­cet anti-ship mis­siles, Raytheon RIM-162 Evolved Sea-Spar­row Mis­siles devel­oped under a multi­na­tion­al NATO coop­er­a­tion and RIM-116 Rolling Air­frame Mis­siles built under a German‑U.S. coop­er­a­tion also led by Raytheon with Diehl BGT Defence as its Ger­man part­ner. The ves­sels are also equipped with advanced radars, sophis­ti­cat­ed com­bat infor­ma­tion sys­tems built by EADS and com­bined ESM/ECM sup­plied by the UK.

New Ship­build­ing Pro­grams

There are three ongo­ing naval con­struc­tion pro­grams: Type 212 sub­marines (two of a total six boats on order are yet to be deliv­ered), four F125 frigates, the keel of the first one was laid this month, and three K130 corvettes yet to be deliv­ered.

 -
The first of four F125 class frigates is sched­uled for deliv­ery by 2016.
Pho­to: TKMS
Click to enlarge

While all ship­build­ing pro­grams are exclu­sive to Ger­many, the weapon sys­tems, parts of the radar and oth­er elec­tron­ics sub­sys­tems are being devel­oped as part of inter­na­tion­al coop­er­a­tions, to reduce devel­op­ment cost.

The F125 pro­gram will deliv­er four ships between 2014 and 2018. The pro­gram focus­es on long endurance ves­sel opti­mized for asym­met­ric war­fare and peace­time oper­a­tion far from its home port. As such, the 5,500 ton ves­sel will have a crew of up to 120 per­son­nel, about half of the crew that were required to oper­ate pre­vi­ous gen­er­a­tion frigates. The ves­sel will also be able to sup­port spe­cial forces teams of 50 per­son­nel.

The navy is in the process of induct­ing the first two of five new Braun­schweig Class K130 corvettes, based on the MEKO A design, with three more under con­struc­tion. These corvettes are sup­ple­ment­ing the squadron of fast mis­sile boats and will bet­ter sup­port typ­i­cal oper­a­tions assumed by the Ger­man Navy, includ­ing anti-pira­cy sup­port. K130 is also designed for a lean crew, oper­at­ed by a com­ple­ment of 65. These corvettes rep­re­sent a mix of sys­tems and tech­nolo­gies from dif­fer­ent Euro­pean and Scan­di­na­vian mak­ers – the radar is made by EADS in Ger­many, as well as the ESM and coun­ter­mea­sure sys­tems. The com­mand, con­trol, com­mu­ni­ca­tions and optron­ic fire con­trol sys­tems comes from Thales Nether­lands; the 76/62mm gun is an Ital­ian sys­tem from Oto-Melara while the main weapon sys­tem is the Swedish RBS15 Mk3. The lat­er is a sur­face launched fire-and-for­get long range anti-ship and land attack mis­sile, devel­oped by the Saab Group. To gain econ­o­my of scale and share the program’s life cycle cost, Ger­many, Poland and Swe­den have decid­ed to col­lab­o­rate and equip their new ves­sels with the new mis­sile. Mar­ket­ed joint­ly by Diehl and Saab, RBS-15 Mk3 is being offered as a future arma­ment of its frigates and poten­tial replace­ment of ear­li­er Exo­cet and Har­poon mis­siles.

 -
The ger­man Navy will oper­ate five K130 Braun­schweig class corvettes. The ves­sel in the pho­to is the fourth ship, F263 Old­en­burg.
Pho­to: TKMS.

A squadron of ten Gepard class Fast Mis­sile Boats, equipped with MM38 Exo­cet anti-ship mis­siles is also oper­a­tional, but the num­ber of boats has being reduced grad­u­al­ly. Under the 2010 announced bud­get cuts, the Navy will retire its Gepard class fast mis­sile boats. The first ves­sels, Nerz and Dachs will be retired by March 2012. Oth­er Type 143A boats retained as oper­a­tional per­formed train­ing in the Baltic Sea in Novem­ber 2011.

Team GlobDef

Team GlobDef

Seit 2001 ist GlobalDefence.net im Internet unterwegs, um mit eigenen Analysen, interessanten Kooperationen und umfassenden Informationen für einen spannenden Überblick der Weltlage zu sorgen. GlobalDefenc.net war dabei die erste deutschsprachige Internetseite, die mit dem Schwerpunkt Sicherheitspolitik außerhalb von Hochschulen oder Instituten aufgetreten ist.

Alle Beiträge ansehen von Team GlobDef →