Our Life In The German Navy

Since Simon doesn't want to write anything you might call it "My Life In The German Navy" :)

Lars Dolling

contents


In Germany we've got conscription. This means you have to go to the army/navy/air force or work in a social job (eg. hospital). When I did my service I had to spend 12 month there. Now it's reduced to only 10 month.

First I had a three month training on land. There l learned normal infantry things like using a rifle. Of course most of this three month I spent in a classroom in the "Marine Ortungs Schule" (Naval School) in Bremerhaven. I had to learn how to be an EW-Op (Electronic Warfare Operator - this means to find other ships and identify them by their radar emission) including things like to radio.

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On January 95 I came to the frigate FGS Lübeck (F 214) the last ship of her series. Our home port was Wilhelmshaven the biggest German naval base. In the first week of February we sailed to Bergen (Norway) to train the new seamen. Actually I lived nearly my whole life at the coast of the North Sea. I had gone by a ferry ship through storms before. Never became seasick. But on the way to Norway we had really bad weather. Jesus, you were sitting in front of your computer and only thinking "Oh, no. I can't anymore." Starring at the monitors, waiting for the relieving. The ship rocked about 30 degrees to each side. Waves splashed at the portholes of the bridge (12 m high). Finally we arrived in Bergen after a long cruise through Norwegian Fjords. I wasn't on duty. Really beautiful. We stayed there only for one evening. As a newbie I had guard duty. Standing next to the gangway while the snow was falling down on me. The only time I left the ship was carrying the trash to the trash containers :). Luckily on the way we had better weather (and the waves from the back).

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Our next and my longest tour was taking part in the SNFM 95 (Standing Naval Force Mediterranean). There we took part in Operation "Sharp Guard"(the UN embargo in front of Montenegro, Serbia in the Adriatic Sea).

It started on Feb the 28th. We went through the Street of Gibraltar where we had a short refuelling stop. Because we wanted to reach the sunny Palma de Mallorca (Mallorca, Spain) a place well known by German tourists - where we were going to relieve another German frigate - as soon as possible, we went a full day at all flank. Yes.

After the nice port visit (5th - 7th March) we went to our first patrol area in the Street of Otranto. There we had to radio all ships and report them to the Sharp Guard forces patrolling to the North. These boarded suspect ships. Our next visit was Souda Bay (Crete, Greece). To reach Crete we traveled through the Canal of Corinth. A canal about 2 miles long about 20m wide and up to 50 meters high. A great experience. We stayed in Souda Bay from 17th till 20th of March.

Then we patrolled in the Montenegro Area. There we had the highest alert status (incl. longer duty). One time we got really upset because a Serbian Mig was heading directly to our ship without any radars turned on. Later we recognized the Mig even had no radars! Unbelievable. Luckily the Mig turned away.
After a short visit in Kerkirka (Corfu, Greece) 31st March to 3rd April - a fantastic isle to rent a car and explore the island - we went to the Montenegro Area again. This time close to the Albanian coast. During this patrol we found one dead seaman his life jacket still wearing drifting in the sea. A sad moment. We gave him to the Albanian Navy. A very small navy with old ships.

Our next port stop was La Spezia (Italy) a major Italian naval base and the worst port I've ever been. There we stayed whole ten days the longest port visit on the whole tour! (14th to 24th April) Can you believe it: There were nearly NO BARS! We had to pay about 50 DM (about 30 Dollars) to get with a cab to the next disco. Never again. The only positive thing were the trips to Pisa, Florence and Genua I made with my friends. On Easter Sunday our military priest ordered in our kitchen "Moose Milk". A Canadian recipe (a ship from the Canadian Navy gave it to us on one of the last tours) with much Bacardi, Vanilla ice cream, milk and others. Tastes great and knocks you out fast.

The next patrol area was again close to the Albanian coast. Nothing special happened. All the day only fishing boats and (broken?) Albanian land radar stations on the scope. The Albanian radars were really strange. The same types we have in the eastern part of Germany (Soviet radar types) having a total different emission. And I guess the German ones work correct :) Patras (Greece) was the next port we visited (4th -7th May). The first time we were really close to the city centre. From there some of my friends and I rent a car and visited Olympia. The ancient places of the Olympia. From Patras we sailed directly (without patrolling!) to Ancona (Italy) were we stayed from 9th to 12th of May. On the way to Ancona we had a barbecue on the flight deck. Pretty cool, sitting on the floor only water around you, a dawning sun and have a barbecue.
The port Ancona wasn't my favorite one either. Not so much you could do.

Our last patrol was again in the Otranto area. One curios thing: we meet a sailing ship. In the same moment we passed it (we moved to it and then reduced our speed) a German MPA (Maritime patrol Aircraft) - also taking part in Op Sharp Guard - was flying over the sail ship. A great picture! Another note: these German planes were sometimes giving us (old) German newspapers and journals by dropping them next to us in the water (of course in a waterproof bag :).

On the way to our last port stop in the Mediterranean Sea we had the "Adriatic Olympics". The whole afternoon nearly every body was carrying civilian clothes. Teams were fighting each others in funny games (like drinking a glass of alcohol via a 3m! straw or tug-of-war). A great afternoon with another cool barbecue on the evening.
In Palma de Mallorca(Mallorca, Spain) a German Destroyer relieved us from the Op Sharp Guard. After a short but pretty wet (alcohol:) port visit (26th - 28th May) we went back to Germany again. On the 2nd of June we finally arrived in Wilhemshaven our home port. Families and friends were waiting on the quay. A naval music group was playing. A nice moment to be back after more than three month away from home!

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Some statistic about our tour:

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More tours:

And there is finally something about this manoever:

It was divided in few parts.
There was a big ASW (Anti Submarine Warfare) part. Since this is the main role of this ship class it was interesting to do this. One supply ship played the convoy. Together with another frigate and a submarine (!) we had to protect the supply ship from some other subs. Was really difficult. For both frigates we had only one helicopter (instead of four). This was because of the shortcuts in the defense departments budget. Since the helicopters are the main weapons against subs we weren't doing very well. The exercise lasted more than 48 hours with no pause. Not very much work for an EW op but for the sonar guys :)
Of course that wasn't the only ASW exercise but the most interesting. We also had a AAW (Anti Air Warfare) exercise. Normally it's nothing special since we had such exercises very often. But this time our ship was "attacked" by two naval fighter Tornados and defended by two air force fighters Phantom. The only problem was: the officer of the CIC gave me this information too late. Because of two EW ops absent (they had to leave because of illness) - this means there are only two left - we had a two shift duty while the rest of the CIC had a three shift duty. So I missed the briefing. With our ESM computer it isn't very easy to identify Phantoms since their radar is working in the I-band where all the normal navigational radars are working. If you don't look for it you may easily miss the plane. When I saw the Phantom radar I was wondering what a Phantom might do here... :)
Also we had a mine sweeping exercise. Together with some fast patrolboats we had to protect a mine flotilla that was "mine sweeping" a corridor through a simulated minefield against the other frigate and fast patrolboats. Was fun. We nearly had sunk (really sunk!) a patrol boat. Since we turned all but our nav radar down (to much traffic to do so) one of the opponent patrolboats didn't recognized our ship. But we did recognized it by his nav radar and his speed. We were heading with all flank (maximum speed) to it. Close enough we turned on our search lights. The patrolboat was so surprised that they turnend away in the wrong direction directly in front of our ship. Only by turning our engines to full back at once (wow - good vibrations from max speed to max back immediately) we could avoid to move over the patrolboat. It was dammed close.
In my opinion a ASuW (Anti Surface Warfare) was the most interesting. Much work for an EW op but also interesting. Together with the other frigate we "fought" against six fast patrolboats. That was fun. We sank them all. Don't think too bad about these boats. They're dangerous opponets! But we were "cheating" a little bit. I think since this is "war" everything is allowed. First we sent our helicopter looking for the boats. Second we looked in their link imagesture :)
There was also a harbor part of this exercise. It was in the naval base Kiel. For exercise we had one big harbour fire on our ship. The other ships had to send fire figthing men. Also the civilian fire fighters of Kiel were called. Poor boys. Luckily I left the ship early enough that day. Then we had a "sabotage day". And me on guard. But wasn't that bad since it was the first time I was allowed to wear my normal uniform instead of my unconvenient guard uniform. It was also the first time for me to wear a baton. ;)

So now that's it. Congratulations you've finished reading this page :)

I hope you've appreciated my reports. Any comments and (grammatical) corrections are welcome. Or do you have questions? I've already heard from one who was watching the the sailing of my ship to Stockholm harbor. Nice to get some feedback.