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Type 124 Sachsen

The frigate Class 124 is based on Class 123, though with a displacement of 5,600 tons it is rather large than the 4,700 ton Type 123. The primary difference to the previous class lies in the different task fields. Whereas Class F123 was particularly destined for ASW tasks in the scope of escort and security duties, the main task of the new frigate class will be the protection of formations and anti-aircraft duties. This is the German half of the Air-defense Command Frigates (LCF Luchtverdedigings en Commando Fregat) project. The LCF is an air defence frigate that has Standard and Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles as its main armament. These ships replace the 'Lutjens' class.

These ships are being build as part of a tri-partite building program between the Spanish Armada, the German Marine, and the Dutch Royal Navy. Instead of the failed Horizon program which involved Italy, France, and Great Brittain, this program concentrates upon the Ship Platform and systems, rather than on combat systems and weaponry. The ships being developed in this program are the Dutch De Zeven Provincien class, Spanish F-100 with SPY-1 and Aegis combat system, and the German F124 which has the APAR and SEWACO combat system.

The design of the ship itself goes back to the well-proven F123 Class, but with a different propulsion concept that, for the first time, comprises a CODAG system with a gas turbine and two diesel engines. The F 124 contains a guidance and weapons deployment system with a fully devolved data processing system, a devolved real time database and a redundant database network. The industry is developing the operational software for the Combat direction system under the terms of a construction contract (through the ARGE Fl24 as General Contractor).

In addition to leading task groups, the main task of the new frigate is the wide-ranging protection of the task group against any form of threat from the air. The use of a large number of sensors and effectors takes an enormous amount of time during information processing. That is why a new kind of data-processing and guidance system with a real-time database and integrated communications network is being used on Class 124 frigates for the first time. The integration of such complex systems was a particular challenge that the ARGE F 124 shipyards successfully solved.

With a displacement of 5,600 tons, the Class 124 frigates are one of the biggest combat units in the German Navy. Just like its sister-ships SACHSEN und HAMBURG, the HESSEN carries the multifunctional radar APAR (Active Phased Array), which was developed in German-Dutch-Canadian collaboration, as well as a new kind of long-range radar.

A further innovation is the modular "Guidance and Weapons Usage System", which stands out due to a decentralised computer installation with a total of 17 on-board computer consoles. These are connected to the weapons and sensors via two ring-like light conductor cables laid in the ship. The entire software for the "Guidance and Weapons Usage System" was developed by the ARGE F124 together with the companies EADS, Thales, Atlas Elektronik as well as other software firms.

The accommodation areas are designed in such a way that additional staff personnel can be put up. Moreover, for the first time the configuration of the living quarters into different zones with separate sanitary facilities takes the accommodation of female crew-members into account.

In addition to essential elements of the MEKO design concept, the frigates incorporate the combined experience gained over the past 40 years in German naval shipbuilding, starting with the "Cologne" Class frigates, through the 36 MEKO frigates that had been built up to the frigates of the "Brandenburg" Class.

Sister yards B+V GmbH (lead yard), ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, as well as HDW AG as consortium member are involved in the ARGE F124 (building consortium). All three yards built a vessel each. Also the FLW at Bremen is substantially involved in the building program. This building program served to secure jobs both at the mentioned yards and the very heavily involved subsuppliers, especially in the south of Germany; suppliers of gas turbines weapons and sensors are the NATO partners USA, Netherlands, Great Britain and France.

In Kiel on 01 September 2000, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG began the building of a new frigate for the German Navy. The frigate "Hamburg" is the second in a series of three friga-tes of Class 124 to be built by the three German shipyards Blohm+Voss GmbH (Hamburg), Thyssen Nordseewerke GmbH (Emden) and HDW. The shipyards joined forces for this contract as Working Group 124 (ARGE 124). HDW will deliver the frigate in December 2004.

Mr. Roger Sprimont, member of the Board of Directors at HDW, mentioned at that time that naval shipbuilding in Germany meant shipbuilding in privately run companies with high cost awareness and positive efficiency levels. In this respect it was hard for German shipyards to be exposed to competition within Europe with national yards, especially in France and Spain, that offered naval ships at dumping prices in spite of making high losses, which were absorbed by the nation concerned. He said that this unfair price policy reminded him of the confrontations between the European merchant shipbuilders and Korea. The entire issue posed a challenge to the politicians, who should attempt to reason with neighbouring nations in Europe to clear up the unbalanced situation.

The new frigate HAMBURG, which was destined for the German Navy, was handed over to the German Federal Office of Defence Technology and Procurement (BWB) 24 September 2004 by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG in Kiel. It was delivered three months ahead of schedule. The frigate is the second in a series of three class 124 frigates being built by the three shipyards Blohm+Voss GmbH (Hamburg), Nordseewerke GmbH (Emden) and HDW. In joining forces to build the ships, the shipyards formed Working Group 124 (ARGE 124).

The keel-laying of the third unit of the Class 124 frigate building program of the German Navy took place on 31 July 2002 at TNSW GmbH. The production methods in shipbuilding have changed. Thus keel-laying is defined no longer by the placement of the first keel-plate but by the section (building block) on the ways. After float-out, which was on 27 June 2003, the vessel was christened "Hessen". The frigate was alongside the fitting-out quay, respectively on sea trials, for a further 30 months prior to the handing-over to the German Navy.

After a building time of three years, the third ship of class 124 of the German Navy, the frigate HESSEN, left its building shipyard Nordseewerke in Emden, a company of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, on 21 January 2005 for the first sea trial. The first sector of the shipyard trial was continued in the Skagerrak deep water after the successful test of the navigation system. On 28 January 2005 the frigate HESSEN returned to its building shipyard after successfully completed the test program.

The test run on the shipyard contained a substantial control programme with its emphasis on ship techniques. The frigate was put through its paces and was introduced to the client. The ship was so able to demonstrate the good sea performance. During the first level of the test, the frigate was navigated by the specialists of Nordseewerke. Aboard the ship were 220 people in total, in addition to the shipyard crew and the representatives of the inspection committee of the client there were also 53 soldiers of the future crew of the HESSEN.

On 07 December 2005, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems handed over the third and last Class 124 frigate to the Federal Office of Defence and Procurement. The ship was built by Nordseewerke shipyard in Emden within the ARGE F124 consortium incorporating as well Blohm + Voss (Hamburg) and Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (Kiel). With the handover of the frigate HESSEN, the F124 construction schedule, which represents one of the German Navys biggest procurement plans with orders totalling around 1.5 bn, is successfully concluded.



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