German Navy

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German Navy
Deutsche Marine
Bundeswehr Logo Marine with lettering.svg
Founded2 January 1956; 63 years ago (1956-01-02)
Country Germany
Size16,365 personnel (30 June 2019)[1]
65 ships
54 aircraft
Part ofBundeswehr
Headquarters of the German NavyRostock (Navy Command)
Motto(s)Wir. Dienen. Deutschland.
(We. Serve. Germany.)
March"Gruß an Kiel [de]"
Anniversaries14 June
Inspector of the NavyVice Admiral Andreas Krause
Deputy Inspector of the NavyVice Admiral Rainer Brinkmann
Chief of StaffRear Admiral Thorsten Kähler
Naval ensignNaval Ensign of Germany.svg

German Navy
Deutsche Marine
German Naval Ensign
Naval Air Arm
Navy Command
Ship Classes
History and Traditions
Prussian Navy
North German Federal Navy
Imperial German Navy
Awards, Decorations and Badges
Badge of Honour of the Bundeswehr
Military Proficiency Badge
Badge of Marksmanship
Deployment Medal
Flood Service Medal 2002
Flood Service Medal 2013

The German Navy (German: Deutsche Marine, officially German: Marine About this soundlisten ) is the navy of Germany and part of the unified Bundeswehr ("Federal Defense"), the German Armed Forces. The German Navy was originally known as the Bundesmarine ("Federal Navy") from 1956 to 1995, when Deutsche Marine ("German Navy") became the unofficial name with respect to the 1990 incorporation of the East German Volksmarine ("People's Navy"). It is deeply integrated into the NATO alliance. Its primary mission is protection of Germany's territorial waters and maritime infrastructure as well as sea lines of communication. Apart from this, the German Navy participates in peacekeeping operations, and renders humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. They also participate in Anti-Piracy operations.[2]


The German Navy traces its roots back to the Reichsflotte (Imperial Fleet) of the revolutionary era of 1848–52. The Reichsflotte was the first German navy to sail under the black-red-gold flag. Founded on 14 June 1848 by the orders of the democratically elected Frankfurt Parliament, the Reichsflotte's brief existence ended with the failure of the revolution and it was disbanded on 2 April 1852; thus, the modern day navy celebrates its birthday on 14 June.

A sailor of the German Navy during the 1970s

Between May 1945 and 1956, the German Mine Sweeping Administration and its successor organizations, made up of former members of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine ("War Navy"), became something of a transition stage for the navy, allowing the future Marine to draw on recently experienced personnel upon its formation. Also, from 1949-52 the US Navy had maintained the Naval Historical Team in Bremerhaven. This group of former Kriegsmarine officers acting as historical and tactical consultants to the Americans, was significant in establishing a German element in the NATO senior naval staff. In 1956, with West Germany's accession to NATO, the Bundesmarine ("Federal Navy"), as the navy was known colloquially, was formally established. In the same year the East German Volkspolizei See (literally "People's Police Sea") became the Volksmarine ("People's Navy"). During the Cold War all of the German Navy's combat vessels were assigned to NATO's Allied Forces Baltic Approaches's naval command NAVBALTAP.

With the accession of East Germany to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 the Volksmarine along with the whole National People's Army (Nationale Volksarmee, NVA) became part of the Bundeswehr. Since 1995 the name German Navy is used in international context, while the official name since 1956 remains Marine without any additions. As of 30 June 2019, the strength of the navy is 16,365 men and women.[1]

A number of naval forces have operated in different periods. See

Current operations[edit]

German warships permanently participate in all four NATO Maritime Groups. The German Navy is also engaged in operations against international terrorism such as Operation Enduring Freedom and NATO Operation Active Endeavour.

Presently the largest operation the German Navy is participating in is UNIFIL off the coast of Lebanon. The German contribution to this operation is two frigates, four fast attack craft, and two auxiliary vessels. The naval component of UNIFIL has been under German command.[3]

The navy is operating a number of development and testing installations as part of an inter-service and international network. Among these is the Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters (COE CSW), an affiliated centre of Allied Command Transformation. The COE CSW was established in April 2007 and officially accredited by NATO on 26 May 2009.[4] It is co-located with the staff of the German Flotilla 1 in Kiel whose Commander is double-hatted as Director, COE CSW.


Ships and submarines[edit]

In total, there are about 65 commissioned ships in the German Navy, including; 9 frigates, 5 corvettes, 2 minesweepers, 10 minehunters, 6 submarines, 11 replenishment ships and 20 miscellaneous auxiliary vessels. The displacement of the navy is 220,000 tonnes.

Ships of the German Navy include:

In addition, the German Navy and the Royal Danish Navy are in cooperation in the "Ark Project". This agreement made the Ark Project responsible for the strategic sealift of German armed forces where the full-time charter of three roll-on-roll-off cargo and troop ships are ready for deployments. In addition, these ships are also kept available for the use of the other European NATO countries. The three vessels have a combined displacement of 60,000 tonnes.[5][6] Including these ships, the total ships' displacement available to the Deutsche Marine is 280,000 tonnes.

Procurement of Joint Support Ships (either two JSS800 for an amphibious group of 800 soldiers, or three smaller JSS400), was planned during the 1995–2010 period but the programme appears now to have been abandoned, not having been mentioned in two recent defence reviews. The larger ships would have been tasked for strategic troop transport and amphibious operations, and were to displace 27,000 to 30,000 tons for 800 soldiers.[7] The German Navy will use the Joint Support Ship HNLMS Karel Doorman (A833) of the Royal Netherlands Navy as part of the integration of the German Navy Marines (Seebatallion) in the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps as of 2016.


The naval air arm of the German Navy is called the Marinefliegerkommando. The Marinefliegerkommando operate 54 aircraft.

Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service Total Notes
Camcopter S-100 Austria UAV ISR 6 on order.
Dornier Do 228 Germany Propeller Pollution control 1996 2
Lockheed P-3C Orion – CUP USA Propeller MPA 2006 8 Former Royal Netherlands Navy
NH90 Sea Lion Germany Rotorcraft SAR / Transport 2018 2 16 more on order, replacing Westland Sea King
NH90 Sea Tiger Germany Rotorcraft ASW 2025 on order, replacing Westland Lynx[8]
Westland Lynx Mk.88 UK Rotorcraft ASW 1981 21 Will be replaced by NH90 Sea Tiger
Westland Sea King Mk.41 UK Rotorcraft SAR / Transport 1975 21 Being replaced by NH90 Sea Lion
A German Navy boarding team member assigned to the frigate Augsburg (F213) provides security with a P8 pistol for the remainder of his team as they board a local cargo hold by fast rope to conduct a search of the vessel


The German Navy is commanded by the Inspector of the Navy (Inspekteur der Marine) supported by the Navy Command (Marinekommando) in Rostock.


  • 1st Corvette Squadron (1. Korvettengeschwader), Warnemünde
  • 1st Submarine Squadron (1. Ubootgeschwader), Eckernförde
    • Submarine Training Centre (Ausbildungszentrum Unterseeboote), Eckernförde
  • 3rd Minesweeping Squadron (3. Minensuchgeschwader), Kiel
  • 5th Minesweeping Squadron (5. Minensuchgeschwader), Kiel
  • 7th Fast Patrol Boat Squadron (7. Schnellbootgeschwader), Warnemünde
  • Naval Force Protection Battalion, (Seebataillon), Eckernförde
  • Naval Special Forces Command, (Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine), Eckernförde
  • Naval Base Command Kiel (Marinestützpunktkommando Kiel)
  • Naval Base Command Eckernförde
  • Naval Base Command Warnemünde
  • HQ 2nd Flotilla
  • 2nd Frigate Squadron (2. Fregattengeschwader), Wilhelmshaven
  • 4th Frigate Squadron (4. Fregattengeschwader), Wilhelmshaven
  • Auxiliary Squadron (Trossgeschwader), Wilhelmshaven
  • Naval Base Command Wilhelmshaven
  • Naval Air Wing 3 (Marinefliegergeschwader 3), Nordholz
  • Naval Air Wing 5 (Marinefliegergeschwader 5), Nordholz



NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Germany Germany
No equivalent MDS 64 Admiral Trp.svg
MDJA 64 Admiral Trp Lu.svg
MDS 63 Vizeadmiral Trp.svg
MDJA 63 Vizeadmiral Trp Lu.svg
MDS 62 Konteradmiral Trp.svg
MDJA 62 Konteradmiral Trp Lu.svg
MDS 61 Flottillenadmiral Trp.svg
MDJA 61 Flottillenadmiral Trp Lu.svg
MDS 53 Kapitän zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 53 Kapitän zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 52 Fregattenkapitän Trp.svg
MDJA 52 Fregattenkapitän Trp Lu.svg
MDS 51 Korvettenkapitän Trp.svg
MDJA 51 Korvettenkapitän Trp Lu.svg
MDS 44 Stabskapitänleutnant Trp.svg
MDJA 44 Stabskapitänleutnant Trp Lu.svg
MDS 43 Kapitänleutnant Trp.svg
MDJA 43 Kapitänleutnant Trp Lu.svg
MDS 42 Oberleutnant zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 42 Oberleutnant zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 41 Leutnant zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 41 Leutnant zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 21a Seekadett Trp.svg
MDJA 21a Seekadett Trp Lo.svg
Enlisted rank plus a star
indicating cadet's career
Admiral Vizeadmiral Konteradmiral Flottillen-
Kapitän zur See Fregatten-
zur See
zur See
zur See
zur See

Petty officers and enlisted seamen[edit]

NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Germany Germany
MDS 35 Oberstaabsbootsmann 20.svg MDS 34 Staabsbootsmann 10.svg MDS 33 Hauptbootsmann 70.svg MDS 32 Oberbootsmann 60.svg MDS 31 Bootsmann 30.svg MDS 22 Obermaat 30.svg MDS 21 Maat 10.svg MDS 16 Oberstabsgefreiter 70 L.svg MDS 15 Stabsgefreiter 60 L.svg MDS 14 Hauptgefreiter 50 L.svg MDS 13 Obergefreiter 30 L.svg MDS 12 Gefreiter 20 L.svg MDS 11 Matrose 10 L.svg
MDJA 35 Oberstabsbootsmann 30 Lu.svg MDJA 34 Stabsbootsmann 40 Lu.svg MDJA 33 Hauptbootsmann 50 Lu.svg MDJA 32 Oberbootsmann 70 Lu.svg MDJA 31 Bootsmann 60 Lu.svg MDJA 22 Obermaat 20 Lo.svg MDJA 21 Maat 10 Lo.svg MDJA 16 Oberstabsgefreiter 10 Lo.svg MDJA 15 Stabsgefreiter 20 Lo.svg MDJA 14 Hauptgefreiter 30 Lo.svg MDJA 13 Obergefreiter 40 Lo.svg MDJA 12 Gefreiter 50 Lo.svg MDJA 11 Matrose 81 Lo.svg
Oberstabsbootsmann Stabsbootsmann Hauptbootsmann Oberbootsmann Bootsmann Obermaat Maat Oberstabsgefreiter Stabsgefreiter Hauptgefreiter Obergefreiter Gefreiter Matrose
Germany Germany
(Officer designate)
No equivalent
MDS 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp.svg MDS 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp.svg MDS 21a Seekadett Trp.svg No equivalent
MDJA 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg MDJA 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg MDJA 21a Seekadett Trp Lo.svg
Oberfähnrich zur See Fähnrich zur See Seekadett

Radio and communication stations[edit]

Future developments[edit]

  • A first batch of four frigates of the F125 class (Baden-Württemberg class) specialised for persistent stabilization missions is planned to replace all eight Bremen class guided-missile frigates. Each F125 will have two crews. They were to enter service in 2016, due to design & quality problems delayed into 2019.
  • Six large surface combat ships are planned under the name 'Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180' (MKS 180), a multi-mission destroyer.
  • Two more Type 212A submarines will be procured within the next decade.[9]
  • Five additional Braunschweig class corvettes are ordered and will be delivered 2020–2023.[10]
  • 18 NH90 NFH 'Seatiger' Helicopters ordered to replace Lynx in ASW/AsuW role, originally ordered by the German Army as NH90 TTH variant with deliveries planned from 2025 onwards.
  • 18 NH90 MRH 'Sealion' Helicopters are planned to replace the current 21 Sea King helicopters of Naval Air Wing 5 in SAR & ship-based Transport Role (VertRep) with deliveries planned from 2019 onwards.
  • The Saab Skeldar has been ordered as a testbed for a future maritime UAV for the Braunschweig class corvette.[11]
  • Integration of the German Navy Marines (Seebatallion) in the Netherlands Marine Corps and use of the Amphibious ships of the Royal Netherlands Navy such as the Joint Support Ship HNLMS Karel Doorman (A833) as of 2016.
  • In May 2013 it was announced by both ministers of Defence that the German and Dutch Navy had agreed to integrate submarine operations, training, and design for future replacements.
  • 2 Combat Support Ships (Type 707) planned to replace Rhön-Class ships (Type 704), introduction into service planned for 2025.

See also[edit]

Further reading (COE CSW)[edit]

  • Jan Wiedemann: COE CSW celebrates fifth anniversary; in: NAVAL FORCES III/2014 p. 90 f.
  • Hans-Joachim Stricker: Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters COE CSW – Das COE als Ausdruck unserer besonderen nationalen Fähigkeiten im Bündnis; in: Marineforum 6-2007 p. 3 f.
  • Fritz-Rudolf Weber: Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters – Think Tank für die NATO; in: Marineforum 1/2-2010 p. 11 ff.
  • Hans Georg Buss, Stefan Riewesell: Maritime C-IED and Harbour Protection: A Joint Effort; in: The Transformer Fall 2013 Vol 9 Issue 2 p. 18
  • Rahn, Werner. "German Navies from 1848 to 2016: Their Development and Courses from Confrontation to Cooperation." Naval War College Review 70.4 (2017). online


  1. ^ a b "Die Stärke der Streitkräfte [Personnel strength of German Armed Forces]". 16 July 2019. Retrieved 20 July 2019.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Bilanz und Ausblick". Archived from the original on 1 January 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  4. ^ Deutsche Marine – press release: Neues Nato-Expertenzentrum an der Kieler Förde nimmt Fahrt auf; Faermann, 2009
  5. ^ "The ships chartered for the ARK Project". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  6. ^ "The ARK project". Archived from the original on 28 November 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  7. ^ "Inspekteur der Marine : Zielvorstellung Marine 2025+" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 June 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  8. ^ Thomas Wiegold (31 July 2019). "Marine soll NH90-Hubschrauber als Ersatz für SeaLynx bekommen (m. Nachtrag)". Augen geradeaus!. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  9. ^ Nachrichtenfernsehen, n-tv. "Marine stellt U36 in Dienst: Bundeswehr bekommt neue U-Boote". Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Koalition will Boote kaufen: Bundeswehr soll fünf neue Korvetten bekommen". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 14 October 2016. ISSN 0174-4909. Archived from the original on 15 October 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  11. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)

External links[edit]