German Navy Ship FGS Bayern has arrived in Fremantle, Western Australia for a week-long visit during a seven-month deployment to the Indo-Pacific region. During the deployment, Bayern will participate in joint exercises with various regional navies, and take part in various European Union, United Nations and NATO operations. Bayern’s mission is one of defence cooperation and security policy, protecting the rules-based international order and improving cooperation with partners in the Indo-Pacific, including Australia.
Bayern’s deployment follows 2+2 political and security policy consultations between the German and Australian Foreign and Defence Ministers on 10 June 2021. On that occasion, Germany and Australia lifted their bilateral Strategic Partnership to an Enhanced Strategic Partnership. This entails, among other things, enhancing security and defence cooperation, including through training and exercises, particularly in the maritime domain. While in Fremantle, Bayern’s crew of 200 officers and sailors will participate in a number of civic, social, sporting, and charity related engagements.
Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Michael Noonan, welcomed the ship to Australia. “The German Navy is a valued like-minded partner and shares the Royal Australian Navy’s commitment to an open, inclusive and resilient Indo-Pacific region. I welcome FGS Bayern’s Indo-Pacific deployment and the opportunity for our Navies to engage in an increasingly strategic and complex maritime environment,” Vice Admiral Noonan said.
The German Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, emphasised on this occasion: “It is about showing the flag and demonstrating on the ground that Germany stands by its international partners when it comes to securing the freedom of the sea routes and upholding international law in the region. This means meeting and performing joint exercises with our partners, including Australia. Among other things, we also intend to participate in monitoring the UN sanctions against North Korea. In doing so, we are actively and visibly underpinning our commitment to the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific by implementing UN Security Council resolutions and thus to strengthen the UN as a whole.”
The port visit will be conducted in a COVIDSafe manner and in accordance with State Government requirements. All personnel are fully vaccinated, have completed a 16-day quarantine period at sea and fulfilled all pre-arrival requirements, including COVID-19 testing before arriving in Western Australia. Bayern will be berthed at Fremantle Harbour from 28 September until 5 October 2021. Bayern is one of four Brandenburg Class Frigates which the German Navy operates. It is the first visit of a German Navy ship to Australian waters since 1988.
The F123 Brandenburg class is a class of German frigate. They were ordered by the German Navy in June 1989, and then completed and commissioned between 1994 and 1996 to replace the Hamburg-class destroyers. These frigates primarily carry out anti-submarine warfare, but they also contribute to anti-aircraft warfare defenses, the tactical command of squadrons, and surface-to-surface warfare operations. Their design includes some stealth features. Currently the F123 class is being upgraded under the auspices of the Fähigkeitsanpassung FüWES (FAF) project. The primary component being upgraded under this program is the Combat Management System, for which a version of the Thales Nederland TACTICOS system will be used. The ships will also receive an IFF upgrade, to the EADS MSSR 2000 I secondary radar system.