FEATURE: German Navy in the doldrums

Featured Baden-Wurttemberg Photo: Ein Dahmer Baden-Wurttemberg

The past year has seen the US Navy roundly castigated in the international media over alleged shortfalls in its training and operational standards, following a series of high profile collisions, and other mishaps.

The US Navy, though, is not the only major western maritime force to be enduring hard times. The German Navy also suffered a rash of mishaps during 2017.

In March, the replenishment tanker Spessart suffered serious engineering problems while taking part in a major naval exercise off Scotland, and had to withdraw from the exercise.

March also saw the combat support ship Frankfurt am Main sustain significant stern damage when the ship struck a jetty at Wilhelmshaven naval base in Germany, while in April the frigate Brandenburg suffered damage to its rudder and screws when it grounded off Piraeus, Greece.

U 135. Photo: Bundeswehr-Fotos 

Then, in October, the advanced air-independent propulsion-equipped Type 212 submarine U 135 damaged its rudder when the boat grounded off the coast of Norway. The sub eventually had to be towed back to Germany.

Now, the German Navy has had to send its newly-constructed, 7,000-tonne, Type 125 frigate Baden-Württemberg back to builders Blohm and Voss, for major work to rectify hardware and software problems.

Most seriously, however, the German defence ministry recently confirmed that the service, which has long been seen as being at the cutting edge of modern diesel electric attack submarine operations, and is charged by NATO with sealing off the Baltic in the event of conflict with Russia, currently has no operational submarines.

According to recent reports, shortages of funds, of dry dock space for refit and repair work, and of spare parts mean that the Germans are unlikely to have an operational submarine available before the latter half of 2018.

Germany has a big state-linked warship construction industry, but much of it is currently focused on supplying very advanced surface ships and submarines to Israel. Some analysts believe the priority being given to this, and other warship export programmes, might be affecting the effort available to maintain Germany's naval effectiveness.

Last modified onWednesday, 10 January 2018 11:32
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