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Type 122 Bremen NATO Standard Frigate

Since the 1980 decision to permit FGN units to operate north of 61 degrees, German Navy units routinely operated in the Norwegian Sea. The six ships of the new Bremen Class Type 122 frigate class were well suited to the arduous environmental conditions of this region and proved to De superb ASW platforms with substantial offensive firepower and anti-air defense capability.

The lead ship of the German version of the NATO Standard Frigate, Bremen, was commissioned in May 1982. The "Bremen" class frigates were designed as antisubmarine frigates, based on the Dutch Kortenaer frigates. They had excellent bow sonar equipment and the dunking sonar of their helicopters. But among the older ships the capability is not at all good, e.g. in order to maintain sonar contact, they must slow down somewhat to reduce noise levels.

It was initially hoped to build 12 ships of this type to provide one-for-one replacements of the "Z" class destroyers and the Koln class frigates. However, financial problems, notably cost overruns in the frigate and the Tornado aircraft programs and the near bankruptcy of the frigates' prime contractor, prevented construction of any units beyond the six completed.

During the Cold War German destroyers and frigates had three primary area and convoy security missions to perform in the North Sea and the southern waters of the Norwegian Sea: air defense, submarine defense and attacks on surface targets. In case of conflict, it may be assumed that the first threat to be met would come in the air. In addition, there would be a constant threat from submarines from the start; but it would depend on water depth. The "Bremen" class frigates' air defense system, consisting of Sea Sparrows, 76-mm guns and the planned RAMs, was satisfactory; but its primary use is for self-protection.

The "Bremen" class frigates got generally good marks for attacking surface targets. They are equipped with eight Harpoon missiles and a 76-mm gun well suited for attacking surface targets. These particular frigates can also accomodate onboard helicopters for over the horizon targeting or third party targeting, which meant that target data were transmitted by radio which lie beyond the radar horizon of a particular ship. Since these messages must among other things be encoded, this procedure still took a lot of time in the Cold War, which is why the flotilla was pinning its hopes on the Naval Helicopter 90 which allows third party targeting to proceed automatically, e.g. by means of automatic data transmission between the helicopter and the ship. The Link-11 unit used for this purpose was still too heavy in the 1980s to be built into the small Sea Lynx.

The Sea Lynx was the only navy helicopter usable for tactical operations. The Sea Lynx can be used for antisubmarine operations beyond the weapons range of the frigates. Each of these helicopters is equipped with two torpedoes for this purpose. In addition, the range of the ship's sonar was enlarged in practical terms with the help of the helicopter's dunking sonar. Communications traffic between the helicopter and the ship takes place over UHF and on HF — the latter only over long distances. The Sea Lynx has a crew of three: pilot, copilot and sonar operator, where the latter is responsible for collecting target data. The torpedoes are launched by the pilot.

The onboard aviation component (Section 500) numbers 18. Administratively speaking, it had two commanding officers: onboard, it is the ship's first officer or commander and on land, it is the squadron leader/commodore of Naval Aviation Squadron 3 based in Nordholz where the helicopters constitute the squadron's third airborne echelon. Prior to the departure of every ship, the aviation component (which is a distinct disadvantage) is moved by bus from Nordholz to Wilhelmshaven. Only the helicopters fly directly to the ship. Upon completion of an operation, the entire procedure is repeated in reverse. This will continue for a few years more until the helicopter base planned at Wilhelmshaven navy yard was completed in 1990.

The twin-shaft power plant on ships of the "Bremen" type includes two LM2500 gas turbines with a power of 25,800 hp each. To increase, endurance the gas turbines are placed in the forward compartment, and the diesels and propulsion reduction gear transmissions—in the adjacent stern compartment.

When designing guided missile frigates of the "Bremen" type (its prototype was the guided missile frigate "Kortenaer," the composition of the power plant was changed. Instead of the TM3B Olympus gas turbines, the LM2500 was selected since, according to data in the foreign press, its operating cost is less because of the higher temperature of the gas although it is more expensive.

In addition, instead of the RM1C Tyne cruising speed turbine a diesel of the MTU firm was selected—cheaper to manufacture and operate. Power is transmitted from the gas turbine to the propeller shafts through a separate planetary reduction gear, self-synchronizing clutch, and propulsion reduction gear (through a single reduction gear), and from a diesel—through a similar fluid clutch and double-reduction gear. The diesel and gas turbines, which are turned on automatically, are separate modules which include air-receiving and gas exhaust devices. They are installed on sound-insulating supports on shock-resistant seats.

There was much to praise about these ships and very little to criticize. The engineering came in for special praise because it was said to represent a generation jump from the previous model. The COD0G installation with its General Electric gas turbines and MTÜ diesel engines performed very well in terms of stability under load and none of the gas turbines have had to be taken out of service ahead of time on any of the six ships. Running on diesel engines, the frigate will make about 20 knots and on gas turbines,28 knots. Altogether, operation is very economical although the gas turbines do use relatively more fuel at slower speeds.

The ship runs very quietly due to very good soundproofing and a quiet propulsion plant. The ventilating system, which is not quite what it should be, makes the most noise on board ship, A great deal on board has been automated which to some extent increases the need for more highly qualified personnel. Thanks to a logger device and a remote control system the engine rooms do not have to be staffed at all times.

The crew's quarters are a great improvement on those of the older ships. The semen's quarters will accomodate up to 12 men as compared to the "Luetjens" class destroyers where quarters are still shared by up to 80 men. The lockers for clothing and personal belongings are surprisingly small. Soldiers in army barracks have about twice as much room. The sanitary facilities, including showers, are located close to the sleeping areas fore and aft. There is only one bathtub in the ship's dispensary. Recreation: rooms are somewhat farther removed.

The "Cologne" was the first of these frigates to get a light grey rally stripe which separates the "unwieldy" hangar from the ship's hull—and that is a small improvement. This hangär provides plenty of room for two helicopters with their rotors folded. In front of the hangar there is the space for the two MK 44 and MK 46 torpedoes, which can be launched both from the ship and, if equipped with a tailgate and a parachute, from the helicopter. To provide fuel for the helicopters, the ship carries a supply of special aviation fuel whereas the ship's own gas turbines run on diesel oil.

Although it was designed as an antisubmarine frigate, the frigate may just as well be called a multi-purpose frigate thanks to its sensors, effectors and the equipment of its operations center (with a total of nine consoles). As compared to the smaller "Cologne" class frigate, this particular ship has a smaller radar reflecting area, since niches and corners have been eliminated to a large extent. For this reason, the frigate does not look particularly beautiful.

As of July 31, 2012, the frigate Cologne was the first ship of the BREMEN class (122 F) out of service. This firstly created a personnel reserve, on the other hand financial resources were saved. The Navy contributed to the consolidation of the Bundeswehr budget. At the same time, the operational availability of the remaining frigates is increased up to the inlet of the new frigates of the Baden-Württemberg class (class F 125) starting in 2016. According to original plans, the ships of this class should be gradually decommissioning from 2013.

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Page last modified: 20-11-2015 20:03:05 ZULU