Thursday, January 17, 2008

HiTaTa 2008

Last week saw the 48th annual "Historic-Tactical Conference" of the German Navy, and this event always brings forth a wealth of information about the German Navy to the public.

I haven't gone through everything yet, but i'll do some random highlights from the three speeches i've read:
  1. OAE saw a German P-3C operating with it "for several weeks" (and 26 operational flights); it has now officially reached IOC.
  2. UNIFIL Command will be transferred from Germany to the Italian-led EUROMARFOR on March 1st. Germany will reduce its contribution (details not known yet), and FGS Hessen (a Type 124) is planned for the first rotation.
  3. OEF will see another German frigate for the next rotation, after that the "target" is to replace it with a P-3C as a "equivalent replacement" (as i expected).
  4. FOC for the Type 124 AAW FFGs is "likely pushed back to first half of 2010" due to the software problems; nevertheless, two of the three frigates will be "operational" this year, with the third being retained for software testing.
  5. EAV cruise 2008 also includes multiple PASSEX with the USN and Finnish Navy (in addition to the already known ones with India and France).
  6. Random tidbit: Good Hope III will involve 14 Kormoran II missiles fired at the EAV ships; additionally, for the first time in years, naval helicopters will live-fire Sea Skua in this exercise.
  7. Northern Coasts 2007 was received very well with all contributing nations, and all have signed back up for the 2008 version; the exercise will also replace large-scale national maneuvers for the Swedish and Finnish Navies.
  8. Apparently, there are some 30 "points of contestion" about the K130 still, which is why they haven't been commissioned yet. However, they are "hopeful that the first will be commissioned during this quarter".
  9. The DM2A4 torpedo has been officially cleared for the Navy (after exercises last year), and the first live-fire shooting in commission is planned for IV/2008.
  10. German Sea King helicopters are receiving a "tactical support capability" for Special Forces, with the basics tested during Northern Coasts.
  11. Vice-Admiral Nolting is mulling buying two new AOs to replace FGS Spessart and FGS Rhön (in addition to any new EGVs).
  12. The F125 project is getting a dedicated taskgroup at the ministry that will try to prevent the same kind of problems popping up with F124 and K130 and is supposed to "keep the initiative with the Bundeswehr".
  13. The "Military Sealift Requirement" of Basis See was apparently hammered out at "around 800 soldiers and their equipment" as a "realistic size" - in order to support a EU Battlegroup, or for evacuation operations. Note that this is the entire requirement, not for a single ship. And doesn't say anything about the type of ship (LPD/LHD/T-AKE style military RoRo)
  14. Apparently the new Concept for "Basis See" includes a requirement for TBMD in it somewhere. Urgh.

Saturday, January 12, 2008

Command from the Sea

In September 2007, the German Navy tested a project outlined in "Basis See" - using naval assets as offshore command bases for land forces.

This concept testing project was started in 2005 already, and now culminated in a Exercise with a defined scenario that would be an application of "Basis See":
About 50 military advisors stuck in a erupting civil war zone have to be evacuated, and, as there are no available forward land bases for an operation, the Division of Special Operations will have to perform this operation from the Type 123 frigate Bayern.
The necessary Heer planning and command staff for this operation was airlifted to the frigate, and set up camp aboard with support by the Navy, planning out the evacuation operation.

The primary point of this experiment was to prove the viability of a "forward command post" onboard a existing navy unit. The Type 123 frigates offer enough space for an additional 20 men living and working for this task onboard without limiting the ship's own crew. As this is far below the company-sized regular command setup for such operations, the forward command staff heavily depends on communications with further staff at home. This experiment in September primarily tested the viability of setting up this command post, setting up a Army C3 IT System (FüInfoSysH) onboard the ship, and establishing and maintaining communications with command staff at home via HF radio and SHF-Satcom. Planned future experiments in the same direction will extend on maintaining and improving this communications route.

The next test will be in April this year onboard another F123 frigate, Brandenburg. The target is to get a Standard Operations Procedure (SOP) manual ready for actual operations by mid-2008, and introducing "Command from the Sea" as a new capability for the German Navy by then.

Friday, January 11, 2008

More Russian-German Cooperation

In civilian shipping, commercial "classification agencies" run registers of ships sorted into various classes (e.g. by size), and provide technical oversight and surveys of all ships on their register. "Classification" is required to enter any territorial waters in the EU for example, for safety concerns. Also, this is usually required to obtain any insurance for a ship.

In total, there are only 40 such agencies worldwide, with ten of them operating internationally and acknowledging each others registers as "valid"; these ten are organized in the IACS organization.

Now, two of these ten agencies within the IACS are the German "Germanischer Lloyd" (GL) and the state-run Russian "Maritime Register of Shipping" (RS).

Germany and Russia signed several contracts over the last six months.

Part of these is among other things that GL will closely cooperate with the St Petersburg Maritime University, one of the best maritime engineering universities worldwide.

Additionally, and that's the big thing, GL and RS will be mutually able to operate in each other's country. That means that Germans and Russians will - to some extent - supervise each other's shipbuilding industry, maritime safety, and technical upkeep in the civilian maritime sector in the future.

A big step.

Thursday, January 10, 2008

German Deployments Update

I did a post back in October on current German deployments.

Guess it's time for a little update there, especially quite a number of ships have rotated since then.


FGS Bayern (F217) - since Oct 07, CTG

FGS Werra (A514) - since Jan 08, FAC Castle at Limassol
FGS Puma (P1622) - rotated in Nov 07
FGS Zobel (P1625) - rotated in Nov 07

FGS Auerbach/Oberpfalz (M1093) - rotated in Sep 07
FGS Überherrn (M1095) - rotated in Sep 07

Didn't list the two MCM vessels in the last post since i was somewhat in doubt as to their actual deployment; they are not covered by the current doctrine (1 FFG + 2 FAC), and are likely to return this or next month at the latest anyway.

The two FACs might be in for a one-year tour with a "wet" crew switch again - though we won't know that before May or so.

CTF150 (Operation Enduring Freedom - Horn of Africa)

FGS Augsburg (F213) - since Sep 07, until about Feb 08

Operation Active Endeavour

FGS Alster (A50) - has been spotted in Malta a few days ago

Both submarines previously assigned returned in December. In my opinion though we're likely to see another Type 212A assigned sometime later this year again. The presence of Alster, like with her sisters, is hushed down as usual - but we can expect one of the three surveillance ships in the area at all times pretty much, also to support MTF448.

SNMG2 in the Mediterranean will apparently have multiple 3-week detachments supporting OAE as well during the next 6 months; Niedersachsen (below) is earmarked for two such detachments already.

Standing NATO fleets:

SNMG1 - FGS Rheinland-Pfalz (F209), since Nov 07
SNMG2 - FGS Niedersachsen (F208), since Jan 08

SNMCMG1 - FGS Weilheim (M1059), since Jan 08
SNMCMG2 - contribution inactive, since Jul 07

Training Cruises

FGS Hamburg (F220)
FGS Köln (F211)
FGS Berlin (A1411)
FGS Westerwald (A1435)

See this post for details on the primary EAV cruise this year.

Several other ships currently "inactive" (below) will presumably host further EAV activities over the next 6 months - in particular Hessen and Karlsruhe are likely there.

Recently returned from deployments

FGS Lübeck (F214) - from MTF448, late Nov 07
FGS Emden (F210) - from FOST at Plymouth, mid Dec 07

Scheduled for Marinearsenal

FGS Bremen (F207) - for overhaul starting around Feb 08

Recently returned from Marinearsenal

FGS Hessen (F221) - around mid Jan 08
FGS Karlsruhe (F212) - around mid Dec 07

Now, while putting the above list together, i tried to track down the other frigates. Without much success so far - i know two have been around Wilhelmshaven during the last few months, while with the other two i'm at a loss. Not that there are many left really - only four out of 15 frigates are missing, and that should say something about the workload of German ships.


FGS Brandenburg (F215) - scheduled trials in April, so she's around home
FGS Schleswig-Holstein (F216) - scheduled yard time

Under contracted-out repair work at Peene-Werft, Wolgast:
FGS Grömitz (M1064)
FGS Frettchen (P6126)
Both damaged in accidents last year.


The German Navy is finally contributing a frigate to a Standing NATO fleet again - Niedersachsen is about to join SNMG2 in Turkey.

For over a year, due to the high national use of the frigates, the Marine wasn't able - or willing - to contribute any combat ships to SNMG1 and SNMG2 and instead had the two civilian-crewed AOs Spessart and Rhön support the two fleets.
This changed with Sachsen joining SNMG1 in January 2007, followed by Rheinland-Pfalz in that group. SNMG2 had Rhön assigned to it until late December.

SNMG2's primary task over the next six months will be to support Operation Active Endeavour in patrolling the Eastern and Central Mediterranean.

Tuesday, January 8, 2008

Short news from the rumour mill...

... have a new date for the commissioning of the K130 Corvette Braunschweig.

April 2008.

Apparently she ran aground while transiting the Kiel Canal, resulting in damage to her propellers.

Braunschweig is currently officially still "on trials" under military authority (or rather, classified a non-navy government vessel) since being handed over by TKMS in 2006 after sea trials. The "prototype" of the K130 class - as she's been referred to by her Captain - was originally supposed to be commissioned in May 2007.

Saturday, January 5, 2008

EAV Tour 2008

"EAV" is the German Training Cruise Flotilla, setting out yearly to train new officer cadets. This year - leaving Germany on January 15th - the cruise will go a bit further than usual. The EAV for 2008 consists of the Type 124 frigate FGS Hamburg (F 220), Type 122 frigate FGS Köln (F 211), and the Type 702 AOR FGS Berlin (A 1411).

The tour, this year, will first set out for Accra, Ghana to the Gulf of Guinea - where the African Partnership Station Initiative is active - then go on towards South Africa.

Around Namibia, the flotilla will meet up with the ammunition RAS ship FGS Westerwald (A 1435), and will enter the month-long maneuver series "Good Hope III" along with German airforce units and the South-African Navy and Airforce off the coast of South Africa. The German airforce units includes aircraft from Recon Wing 51, the Luftwaffe Tornado wing tasked with Naval Strike missions, and "Good Hope III" will primarily focus on air-defence scenarios and joint operations.

After a visit Port Louis, Mauritius, the flotilla then continues on to Kochi in India, where further joint maneuvers will be held with the Indian Navy to "strengthen the ties between the German and Indian Navies".

The flotilla will then traverse the Fifth Fleet AoR, with a visit to Oman, and transfer to the Mediterranean through Suez. In the Mediterranean, in a sort of tradition for the EAV, a further two weeks of joint maneuvers with the French Marine Nationale are scheduled, before the ships return to Germany with some side visits to Spain, the UK and Ireland.

The whole cruise will take about 6 months.