Defense: Navy chief: “Only a few seconds remain for a decision”

Defense: Navy chief: “Only a few seconds remain for a decision”

A frigate is returning from a combat mission, two other ships are leaving for the geostrategically important Indo-Pacific next week. The inspector names tension and relief.

Marine Inspector Christian Kaack thanked the crew of the frigate “Hessen” for their efforts after the combat mission in the Red Sea, which lasted more than eight weeks. Before the ship’s expected return to Wilhelmshaven on Sunday, he certified that the men and women had “overcome all challenges.” The experiences from participation in the EU mission “Aspides” against attacks on merchant ships by the Iran-allied Houthi militia are transferable and “expanded national and alliance defense”.

Kaack said: “This is also about protecting our vital supply routes. This can of course also happen to us in other areas, including in the Baltic Sea. Ballistic missiles are also used by the Russians and drone systems like the ones we see in Ukraine are something that is part of everyday combat.”

The 143 meter long “Hessen” with around 240 soldiers on board made a German contribution to the EU military mission and, according to the Ministry of Defense, escorted a total of 27 merchant ships safely through the operational area. In four cases the Houthi militia’s drones and missiles were successfully combated.

“The biggest challenges we have seen are ballistic missiles. They can travel at 2,000 meters per second. You can calculate what that means. There are only a few seconds left for the right decision to be taken and decide to shoot,” he said Marine Inspector. And: “Incidentally, as the commander confirmed to me several times during several calls, the crew had complete confidence in the weapon system. That was a bit in contrast to the anticipatory despair in parts of the public beforehand.”

It was the first combat mission of this kind for the German Navy. Now we are investigating how two months of the so-called war march under constant threat affect the crew. “You have little sleep, that’s one thing. And then the direct threat and the intense experience: you see that a ballistic missile explodes close to a merchant ship that you are supposed to protect,” said the inspector. “Or a drone flies towards a ship that needs to be protected and is then destroyed.”

Because the upper deck is sparsely occupied during battle, only a few people can see this while most of the crew is inside the ship. “They hear the noise of the missiles and the firing of their turrets and sit in the aircraft or on the ship’s security command posts and have to wait for the information to reach them.” Information would be passed on via loudspeaker systems and personally by the first officer.

Shortly after the return of the frigate “Hessen”, the task force supplier “Frankfurt am Main” and the frigate “Baden-Württemberg” will set off for the Indo-Pacific on Tuesday. The trip follows the federal government’s guidelines for the region, is intended to support value partners there and maintain the rules-based order. In the region, smaller nations feel threatened by the dominant superpower China. A decision is awaited with interest as to whether German Navy ships will sail through the Taiwan Strait, which could anger Beijing because it considers the democratic island republic to be part of its territory.

Marine inspector: two more frigates “absolutely necessary”

Kaack also advocated ordering two more frigates for the naval forces and warned of the risk of cost increases. “I think it is absolutely necessary that Germany takes this option and orders these two frigates. And I agree with the minister on this, because we must now invest in the fleet of the future so that we can continue to fulfill our tasks of protecting our people in the long term can guarantee,” said the vice admiral. He also referred to a changing security situation and the importance of the German Navy for protecting critical maritime infrastructure. Russia is increasingly trying to explore these.

Construction of the first F126 class frigate began in December. The Bundeswehr is planning to build ships that will be “capable of three-dimensional naval warfare worldwide and comprehensively.” This means that targets can be fought underwater, on the water and in the air. Maritime surveillance, enforcing embargoes, supporting special forces and evacuation operations are named as the most important tasks. Kaack demanded: “We need highly effective combat units that can assert themselves in combat, and in numbers that ensure that we can use them permanently.”

Source: Stern

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