translated and edited by Curtis Hand
Bredo Dry Docks in Bremerhaven secured the multi-month contract for German Navy‘s new F125 frigate “Baden-Württemberg” scheduled maintenance. Based on the published tender, the total volume for the repair work amounts to over 30 million euros.
After a trip from the naval arsenal in Wilhelmshaven and a short North Sea mission, the 150-meter-long frigate was dried out in Floating Dock V in Kaiserhafen I and ready for its first repairs to begin. Extensive maintenance and repair work will be carried out on all systems that are subject to extensive inspection and monitoring in close coordination with the German Navy by the year’s end.
The “Baden-Württemberg” (pictured) was officially delivered only in spring 2019 -even though originally delivered in 2017, prior to being returned to remedy serious defects. According to media reports, there were problems primarily with the software, but also with hardware components. Some accounts mention radar defects and that water treatment and the food cooling systems had problems, while others noted serious construction defects on the frigate.
Thanks to an increased degree of automation and reduced maintenance requirements, it is possible to significantly reduce the manning from 200 personnel on the former frigates of the German Navy to 126 personnel on the new ships. This leaves ca. 70 extra berths on board for additional personnel as required (e.g. helicopter crews, special forces, SAR teams, et al).
The F125 ships can remain in their area of operation simultaneously for up to two years, e.g. missions abroad. In this way, the sometimes very long transit times from the home port to the operational area can be reduced considerably. In addition to the high level of automation, this long standing time is also made possible by the multi-crew model, which provides that two regular crews per frigate replace each other during the ongoing mission.
In the meantime, the frigate “Nordrhein-Westfalen” was delivered last summer and the “Sachsen Anhalt” only a few weeks ago. A delivery date for the third quarter of 2021 is planned for the last ship of this class, the “Rheinland Pfalz”, which completed its first test mission abroad, lasting several weeks, in 2020. From February to April 2020, the frigate was in Brazilian waters for warm water test to trial the technical systems on board under the influence of warm air and warm water.
Because a large number of technical systems on a ship are dependent on cooling, air or sea water are used for cooling, so that changes in are possible when increasing air and water temperatures in the ship’s environment. Additional tests will happen after the ship is put into service. Test regimen that replicate an operational scenario are necessary to test a ship in a meaningful way- including crew training levels that exceed “safe participation in maritime traffic” after commissioning a ship.
On her return voyage to and from Brazil’s Salvador de Bahia the “Baden-Württemberg” covered a total ca. 13,500 nautical miles (25,000 km) last year and also called at ports on the Canary and Cape Verde Islands.
About the F125s
The new frigate class, consisting of four ships, was built by ARGE F125, consisting of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (headquarters in Kiel) and Fr. Lürssen Werft (Bremen). The foreships were manufactured at the shipyard sites of Fr. Lürssen Werft in Bremen and Wolgast. The manufacture of the aft hulls, the assembly of the two halves of the ship, the final equipment as well as the commissioning and testing took place under the direction of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems at the Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg. The total machine output, consisting of a General Electric gas turbine and four MTU diesel engines, is 31.6 megawatts. Two diesel engine generators supply their power to two electric motors, which are first connected directly to the drive shaft. The individual gas turbine alone delivers 20 megawatts of power, and this is connected to the electric motors when the ships are supposed to travel at top speed (up to 28 knots). The frigates also have four Buster RHIBs. These fast, manoeuvrable and durable boats are hidden behind flaps in the superstructures in the boat niches in order to keep the radar profile of the frigates small.