Friday, December 14, 2007

Where are the Corvettes?

The new German K130 "corvette" class (at 1,840 tons, they're light frigates in reality) has received a lot of hype from the German Navy.

However, it seems as though their introduction is turning into a long, drawn-out affair. Originally, it was planned to commission the first two corvettes in 2007, with the other three following in 2008.

To be more exact, F260 Braunschweig was supposed to commission in May 2007, F261 Magdeburg sometime around July. Then May came around, and the Navy pushed commissioning dates back to "Summer 2007" for both ships. Understandable, as Braunschweig did have some problems during her early sea trials - including damaging her screws on a high-speed run.

Then "Summer 2007" rolled around. And where are the corvettes? Well, on trials. Still. They were also not commissioned in Autumn '07. F260 Braunschweig was originally planned for the Northern Coasts 2007 exercise, back in late October (and this was still the plan in September, one of the backposted potential commissioning dates). As she apparently wasn't ready, she was struck from that exercise.

Actually, they're nowhere around their future squadron's homeport, Warnem├╝nde on the Baltic Sea, even - both ships tend to hang around Kiel and in particular Wilhelmshaven lately, the sites of the two Marinearsenal navy yards. Sometimes in other ports for trials, e.g. in Eckernf├Ârde (the German submarine force homeport). Occasionally they seem to go to sea for trials, or are used in port shows - but not much else.

There are some rumours that F260 Braunschweig is still supposed to commission this year - though, considering there's only like two weeks left of that year, that's really rather doubtful.

The construction goes on nonetheless. All five corvettes have now been christened and launched, the last one (F264 Ludwigshafen) on September 26th. All corvettes already carry their armament - even Ludwigshafen is being shown with her forward RAM and 76mm displayed proudly.

And even the training of future crews is ongoing. This is done "dry" on a full replica of the stations at the Marinetechnikschule in Stralsund. This has been going on since at least July with two technical crew being trained.

So where's the delay? Some critical failure in building? Engine problems? One can only wonder...

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