Although no one really expected Germany to rebuild the Kriegsmarine U-Boot arm to the levels of it’s glory days of WWII, it was natural for Germany to create a force sufficient for her modern needs.
After WWII, Germany transitioned from quantity to quality, incorporating designs and improvements of the late-war Type XXI & XXIII into smaller, but deadlier submarines. German submarines are still considered to be top-notch, and several have been sold to overseas bidders.
Now, however, it seems that the great German submarine tradition may well be on it’s way to history’s dustbin.
By ALBRECHT MÜLLER
Published: 4 Jun 2010 10:49.
BONN, Germany – The German Navy abruptly decommissioned more than half of its submarine fleet on June 1, well ahead of the planned 2016 retirement of the six 500-ton U-206A-class diesel submarines.
Now the German sub fleet consists of four U-212A-class vessels. The 1,830-ton boats, among the world’s most modern conventional submarines, have a new hybrid drive with a fuel cell that allows them to operate fully submerged for several weeks.
All four were commissioned between 2005 and 2007; the Navy is expecting the delivery of two more slightly modified U-212A-class subs by 2012 or 2013.
“At the moment, we expect their operational readiness not later than 2015,” a German Navy spokesman said.
The spokesman did not say whether the decommissioning was related to recently announced government plans to cut defense spending.
The newspaper Kieler Nachrichten said the decommissioning of the U-206As has dropped Germany from second to sixth place among nations that operate non-nuclear submarines.
Between 1973 and 1975, Germany commissioned 18 U-206-class submarines. In the early 1990s, the service modernized 12 of them to the U-206 A standard, when they were the smallest operating armed submarines in the world, according to Navy officials.
The crews of the decommissioned boats will be retrained to serve on the U-212A subs.
“Until now, every crew was assigned to its own boat, but we will change this to a two-crew concept,” the spokesman said.
That way, the submarines themselves can remain longer in an operational area while only their crews will have to be changed. Germany’s planned F125 frigates also will use this approach.
Of course, this Blue/Gold crew business is wishful thinking, as it fails to take into account any mechanical casualties. Any sort of mechanical issues in a single boat will now deprive the fleet of 25% of it’s force. One has to ask, then, “Why bother”? To my mind, that may be exactly what the German Government is thinking. It’ s always politically easier to cut defense spending than entitlement programs. Germany certainly has a socialist history, with entire generations now being weaned at the government tit, and large numbers spending their lives slurping at the public trough rather than actually creating wealth. Don’t get me wrong. Germany is still head and shoulders above any other European nation, but but a major reason for her economic prosperity has been that these United States have taken over a large portion of their defense budget these past 65 years.
However, as to the immediate problem, it is disappointing that Germany has taken these steps. Even with 4 new boats coming online in the future, the short-term loss of these 6 boats, along with the training and operational experience they provide is a further weakening of NATO maritime strength, at a time when international tensions are rising.
A simple suggestion for Germany: Stop bailing out other nations, and see to your own national needs first. Would that these United States were able to do that.