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Deutsche Marine - German Navy - Cold War

As early as January, 1951, the first talks concerning the re-establishment of West German naval forces were held between Chancellor Adenauer and General Eisenhower. The 1954 Paris accords and the formation of NATO (May 9, 1955), opened a direct course for the growth of the FRGN, which by the end of 1960 numbered 23,800 personnel. The accords permitted the construction in the FRG of submarines no larger than 350 tons and surface ships up to 3,000 tons.

The NATO nations furnished considerable assistance to the newly-founded FRGN by transferring ships, naval bases and basing points, as well as repair facilities. From its very inception, the objective of the FRGN was a close working relationship with its partners in the aggressive NATO bloc. The navy of the Federal Republic of Germany had the mission of coastal defense and Baltic operations, but also assumed another mission: cooperation in sea-control operations by larger ships in the North Sea. This mission gained importance in 1980 when West Germany lifted a self-imposed restriction on naval operations north of 616 north.

During the Cold War, German control of the western Baltic and its approaches was critical to the success of naval operations in the North Atlantic and the land battle in central Europe. If Warsaw Pact forces were allowed to outflank allied land forces by amphibious assault in Germany, deny to NATO Danish and German air bases, and exit the Baltic to reinforce the Soviet North Fleet, Germany would be isolated and completely vulnerable.

In accord with Protocol III of the October 1954 Paris Agreements, construction was prohibited of combat surface vessels with a tonnage over 3,000 tons (with the exception of 8 antimissile destroyers with a tonnage of not more than 6,000 tons each) and submarines of over 350 tons (with the exception of 6 submarines up to 1,000 tons), in addition to any class of fighting ships with a nuclear propulsion unit.

Later years saw the lifting of limitations on producing destroyers with a tonnage up to 6,000 tons, submarines with a tonnage up to 1,000 tons, for purchasing anti-missile destroyers. In the 1970's and 1980's, the process of revising the Paris Agreements was continued. In September 1973, West Germany was permitted to build submarines with a tonnage up to 1,800 tons and in July 1980, all limitations were lifted on the tonnage of fighting ships.

The Germans were only too aware of the consequences of an inability to control the Baltic. Toward this end they have developed a unique force which they claimed was capable of performing the missions assigned while remaining within the national fiscal constraints.

In the North Sea and Norwegian Sea the German mission was consideraDly less structured and more integrated with Allied blue water navies. The Allied mission here was to assert naval superiority and protect reinforcement and supply movements from air, surface, and submarine attack and to avert enemy mines.

For this mission, which is quite different from that in the Baltic, the German Navy had developed and maintains a markedly different force mix of destroyers and frigates, submarines, long range maritime patrol aircraft, mine warfare units, and supply ships. The specific mission of these forces was to ensure that the German North Sea SLOC terminals remain open for resupply.

By the nature of the geography and the mission, German strategy in this area was much more dependent upon the effectiveness of other European navies in performance of similar tasks. This strategy is even more heavily dependent, however, upon USN carrier battle group (CVBG) operations in the Norwegian Sea. Without control of the Norwegian Sea and the engagement of the Soviet North Fleet, the battle for German resupply terminals to the south would be lost.

By 1980 the commander of the nation's Navy, Vice Adm A. Betge, without beating around the bush, announced the plans of the Bundesmarine: "We should be ready for such a development of events which would force the Western industrial nations to ensure an organized naval presence in those areas which ordinarily are not included in the sphere of operations of NATO."

West Germany has had 17 destroyers and large frigates since the early 1960s, but by 1980 at least 10 would have to be replaced soon. To do this West Germany was building six Bremen-class frigates and considering construction of two more. The German fast attack force has been at or above a level of 40 boats since the early 1960s, and 10 Type-143A vessels were building in 1980 to replace the 10 oldest units. (The U.S. PHM class was originally programmed for this purpose but was dropped due to cost.)

The submarine force of 25 boats was to be maintained by construction of the Type-210 submarine. The 18 coastal minesweepers still in service were built in 1958-60 but have all been updated, 12 by conversion to minehunters and 6 by conversion to control ships for "Troika" drone minesweepers. Unlike her neighbors to the north, West Germany has not maintained a naval minelaying force. The West German navy had two squadrons of F-104 fighterbombers, which were to be replaced by Tornados, and one squadron of Atlantic maritime patrol aircraft, whose weapons and sensors were to be updated under a major new program.

With the continued out of area employment of USN CVBGs since the Soviet invaslon of Afghanistan, in the 1980s the German Navy sought and accepted an expanded role in the Norwegian Sea. It was obvious that the Germans believe that the commitment to the northern flank of three US CVBGs was critical to the defense of the Atlantic SLOC's. With the continued out of area deployments by the USN, there was a critlcal delaying role to be played by those European navies which remain essentially on station awaiting the arrival of the US Carriers. The FGN defended the charge they are pursuing an expansionist naval policy to the detriment of their Baltic commitment upon these grounds.

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