VESSEL REVIEW | Rheinland-Pfalz – Final F125 stealth frigate delivered to German Navy

Photo: Raiger

A consortium that includes German defence company and shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) has handed over the German Navy frigate Rheinland-Pfalz to the German Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw).

The newbuild is the final one of four F125 or Baden-Wurttemberg-class stealth frigates built for the German Navy by TKMS together with the NVL Group (formerly Lurssen Defence) as part of the ARGE F125 consortium. The first three vessels in the class are already in the in-service phase and are scheduled for commissioning beginning in mid-2023. These ships will replace the eight-strong Bremen-class frigates that were designed and built in the 1980s.

Like its sisters, Rheinland-Pfalz has a length of 149 metres, a beam of 18 metres, a draught of five metres, a displacement of approximately 7,200 tonnes, and space for 126 crewmembers and up to 64 additional personnel. A combined diesel-electric and gas (CODLAG) propulsion arrangement consisting of a 20MW gas turbine, four 2.9MW diesel generators, two 4.7MW electric motors, and two shaft-driven controllable-pitch propellers enable the ship to reach a maximum speed of 26 knots. In diesel-only mode, a speed of 20 knots can be achieved while cruising speeds will yield a range of 4,000 nautical miles.

TKMS said the completely redesigned vessels of the F125 class have highly complex systems and around 28,000 sensors that enable a high degree of automation, making it possible to reduce the required number of crewmembers by about half compared to previous German Navy frigate classes. The ships are also designed to remain in their respective theatres of operations for up to two years.

Photo: TKMS

Besides performing the traditional tasks of national and alliance defence, the F125 ships are designed for conflict prevention and crisis management as well as for intervention and stabilisation operations in an international context. In terms of combat capability, the newer frigates also boast significantly improved land attack weapons and sensors whereas their Bremen-class predecessors were designed primarily for anti-surface warfare.

The array of armament includes Harpoon anti-ship missiles, land attack missiles, RIM-116 surface-to-air missiles, a Leonardo 127mm naval gun that can strike land targets up to 100 kilometres away, two Mauser 27mm autocannons, and seven 12.7mm machine guns. Five of the machine guns are fitted on Leonardo remote weapon stations while the remaining two are manually controlled. A decoy launching system supplied by Rheinmetall provides self-defence capability against hostile guided missiles.

Guidance for the frigate’s own missile armament is provided by a Cassidian TRS-4D active electronically scanned array (AESA) radar. Other key sensors include a specialised sonar that can detect underwater divers and swimmers, thus improving the ship’s ability to defend itself against saboteurs armed with explosives.

In accordance with its intervention and stabilisation role, the ship has deck space for four rigid inflatable boats (RIBs), underwater remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and two 20-foot containers. The aft flight deck can accommodate up to two NH90 utility helicopters.

Rheinland-Pfalz is also equipped with water cannons as a non-lethal means of deterrence.

Click here for more news stories, feature articles, and vessel reviews as part of this month’s focus on maritime security vessels.

Type of vessel:Frigate
Owner:German Navy
Builders:NVL Group, Germany; ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, Germany
Length overall:149 metres
Beam:18 metres
Draught:5.0 metres
Displacement:7,200 tonnes
Main engines:20 MW; 2 x 4.7 MW
Propulsion:2 x controllable-pitch propellers
Generators:4 x 2.9 MW
Maximum speed:26 knots
Range:4,000 nautical miles
Radar:Cassidian TRS-4D AESA
Armaments:Harpoon anti-ship missiles; Leonardo naval gun, 127 mm; 2 x Mauser autocannons, each 27 mm; 7 x machine guns, each 12.7 mm
Other equipment installed:Helicopter deck; Rheinmetall decoy launch system; water cannons
Tenders:4 x rigid inflatable boats
Type of fuel:Diesel

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