The German Navy (Deutsche Marine) is commissioning the final of its four F125 Baden-Württemberg-class frigates in a ceremony in Wilhelmshaven on July 13. German shipbuilder thyssenkrupp Marine Systems has handed over the fourth and final F125 frigate to the German defense procurement agency (BAAINBw). Delivery of FGS Rheinland-Pfalz took place on January 28 in a ceremony in Hamburg. FGS Rheinland-Pfalz was handed over after its launch in 2017. All of the ships in the class experienced significant delays in the delivery, as they had to undergo a redesign effort to address issues identified during the operation of the first ship in the class. In fact, the amount of issues identified forced the German Navy to return the first-in-class ship to the shipbuilder for rectification.
The F125 Baden-Württemberg-class frigates are a series of frigates of the German Navy, which were designed and constructed by ARGE F125, a joint-venture of Thyssen-Krupp and Lürssen. The Baden-Württemberg class have the heaviest displacement of any class of frigate worldwide. They are to replace the Bremen class. They are primarily designed for low and medium intensity maritime stabilization operations, where they are supposed to provide sea-to-land tactical fire support, asymmetric threat control at sea and support of special forces. The Baden-Württemberg-class frigates will have much enhanced land-attack capabilities. This will better suit the frigates in possible future peacekeeping and peacemaking missions. For such reasons, the frigates will also mount non-lethal weapons.
Major design goals are reduced radar, infrared and acoustic signatures (stealth technology), something that was introduced to the German Navy with the Brandenburg-class frigates and was further developed with the Sachsen-class frigates and Braunschweig-class corvettes. It should be possible to deploy Baden-Württemberg-class frigates for up to two years away from homeports with an average sea operation time of more than 5,000 hours per year. For this reason, a combined diesel-electric and gas arrangement has been chosen for the machinery. This allows the substitution of large and powerful diesel engines for propulsion and sets of smaller diesel generators for electric power generation with a pool of med-sized diesel generators, reducing the number of different engines.
The Baden-Württemberg-class frigates are equipped with one 127mm main gun, two 27mm auto cannons and seven 12.7mm machine guns for defence against air and surface targets. The vessels are also armed with non-lethal weapons, such as water cannons and searchlights for non-provocative deterrence and defence. Beyond capabilities that might be provided by the ship’s helicopter(s), sensors for anti-submarine warfare have not been integrated into the platform while the ship’s air defence capability is limited to relatively short-range point defence systems. To enhance survivability of the frigates, important systems are laid out in the two island principle, i.e. present at least twice at different places within the ship. This is also visible in the superstructures, which are split in two larger pyramidal deckhouses.