At a ceremony at Fr. Lürssen Werft in Lemwerder (Germany) today, high-ranking representatives from the German Ministry of Defence, BAAINBw procurement agency and the national shipbuilding industry delivered their keynotes that mark the beginning of the construction of the first unit of a new batch of five corvettes for the German Navy.
The construction of the ships signals a strong refocus on a process that will strengthen the current state of Germany's surface fleet, "thanks to a significant increase in the amount of money that will be invested in new ships," said Friedrich Lürßen, owner and shareholder of Fr. Lürssen Group. Also acting as principal representative of the ARGE K130 industrial consortium at the ceremony, he noted that the customer gets the ,"best technology," in a programme that might deliver a fresh appeal to other major European shipbuilders as to the unique character and composition of the K130 working group. Besides Lürssen as leading member, it consists of thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and German Naval Yards Kiel (GNYK).
Under the auspieces of the so-called, "Ergänzungsbeschaffung Korvette K130," the five new corvettes will complement the inventory of five earlier Batch 1 BRAUNSCHWEIG class corvettes that were built by Lürssen and thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and commissioned into service between April 2008 and March 2013. The five new corvettes will be build and outfitted at four different locations across northern Germany.
Lürssen, at its premises in Lemwerder, is set to build the forward sections for the first two corvettes, while Lürssen's Peene shipyard located in Wolgast will be responsible for the rear sections of all five ships. Meanwhile, GNYK is constructing three forward sections in Kiel. Mr Lürßen said in his wellcome note: "What was achieved (since the signing of the contract in 2017) brings us forward with the project as a whole."
Thanks to the sharing of construction work and assembly done at the four industrial sites, the production of all units will be in parallel, meaning that their delivery can be achieved in the shortest possible time. Outfitting and launching of the five corvettes will be undertaken at Blohm + Voss shipyard in Hamburg, which is a subsidiary of Lürssen.
In his speech, Vice Admiral Andreas Krause, Chief of German Navy, explained that the original plan, in the 1990s, foresaw a total of 15 corvettes. Due to budgets reasons, this figure was reduced to only five units. German Defence Minister Ursula von der Leyen insisted that 25 years of reduced investments in new-construction programmes may have resulted in a, "significant decrease," in the order of battle. Today, the fleet is composed of 46 ships and boats, the smallest in history,
Adm Krause warned. With the start of the new batch of K130 corvettes, there is a unique challenge to get this process stopped. He also noted that the new corvettes will be able to strengthen the German Navy's commitment to maritime security in the Baltic Sea, as mirrored in the recently commissioned Baltic Component Command.
The procurement programme, which was first announced in October 2016, was eventually initiated due to another reason: to fill the gaps caused by the expected delay of the MKS180 ("Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180") project.
It is important to note that the new batch corvettes will be similar in design to the Batch 1 units; but, "the ships will be constructed in accordance to the latest shipbuilding technologies and standards," said Friedrich Lürssen. Additionally, the five corvettes will carry the most sophisticated sub-systems and components, including sensors and processors, armaments, electronic warfare equipment, and propulsion systems, to only name a few.
It is not clear, however, whether the new batch corvettes may be the last German new-construction surface combatants equipped with the long-range (200+ km) RBS15 Mk3 weapon system, a sophisticated anti-ship missile with land-attack capability developed and marketed by Saab and Diehl Defence. According to the ARGE K130 consortium, the five new corvettes will be delivered and commissioned into service between 2022 and 2025.
Dr Stefan Nitschke