On April 25, the Peene shipyard in Wolgast will lay the keel for the new corvette «Cologne». The new corvettes are the first result of the trend to reverse the equipment decline of the German Navy. The construction of the first of five new corvettes takes place just two years and four months after the first parliamentary initiative in the Bundestag.
«The armament project of the new corvettes shows we can also be fast», said the Navy Inspector (chief of staff), Vice Admiral Andreas Krause. «And we also have to stay fast because we urgently need the ships to relieve the fleet».
Since its commissioning in 2008-2013, the first five ships in the class have become proven workhorses of the German naval forces. On the one hand, one of the corvettes for the UNIFIL stabilization mission in the Mediterranean Sea off the coast of Lebanon has been in use virtually since 2012. On the other hand, the small, manoeuvrable ships with a sea endurance of up to seven days are specialists for national and alliance defense missions in the Baltic Sea, where they regularly practice with NATO and EU partners.
The German fleet has recently tested the newly-developed concepts of intensive use and multi-crew model with the class K 130, for which the class 125 frigates are designed and of which the first will be put into service this year.
Intensive use means that a naval vessel will remain on operational service for up to two years, while the crew will change every four months thanks to the multi-crew model. Already in 2015 and 2016, the «Erfurt» proved the practicability of these concepts: It was in use 17 months at a time both at UNIFIL and in the Horn of Africa. During this time, her approximately 60-strong crew changed four times. The test has shown that although the wear was greater, the technology of the «Erfurt» is robust enough to withstand the intense use.
The «Cologne» is the first of a second batch of K 130 corvettes, around which the Navy will complement its current fleet with five additional corvettes. The «Cologne» will be followed by «Emden», «Karlsruhe», «Augsburg» and «Lübeck». The keel for the latter is expected to be laid in December 2020. The first maker’s sea trial for the «Cologne» is scheduled for August 2022.
With the procurement of these new ships, the Navy will also eliminate the obsolescence of the corvettes, which are already introduced into the fleet.
The five new corvettes will be built by a joint venture of three shipbuilding companies: Lürssen Werft, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems and German Naval Yards.
Lürssen will build the foredeck of the «Cologne» in its shipyard at Lemwerder near Bremen, while the rear will be built at the Wolgaster Peene shipyard. These two large sections will then be assembled and equipped at the Thyssen shipyard Blohm & Voss in Hamburg. In Wolgast, the rear vessels of the remaining four new corvettes are also being built.