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Report item 2 - Federal Armed Forces procured frigates without being able to train an adequate number of their crews

Apr 10, 2019

Federal Ministry of Defence
(Departmental budget No. 14)

The Federal Armed Forces have procured four F 125 frigates for the Navy. For this purpose, the Federal Armed Forces concluded a procurement contract of more than €3.1 billion in 2007. The contract provided for the vessels to be delivered from 2014 to 2017. As a result of time overruns, the Federal Armed Forces expect the Navy to receive the frigates from 2019 to 2020.

The four F 125 frigates are designed to replace the current eight F 122 frigates. The Navy is planning to make more intensive use of the F 125 frigates than before. The frigates are to serve continuously in the area of operation for up to two years instead of nine months as has been the practice so far. For this purpose, additional funds have been made available to equip the F 125 frigates with automated systems needing very little maintenance and repair. Also the Navy is planning to operate the F 125 frigates by relying on a multiple-crew model where eight crews will be operating as a closed team on a rotation principle. This serves to ensure that the vessels can remain in the area of operation for two years. In this way, the duration of each crew’s operation can be limited to four months. Thus, the Navy intends to operate two of the four F 125 frigates on a permanent basis. Such is the Federal Armed Forces’ national planning which is in line with their pledge to NATO.

The Federal Armed Forces are procuring four new frigates for the Navy at a cost of more than €3 billion, but failed to build up the land-based facilities needed to train the operating crews. As a result, the number of crews to be trained is now lower than needed. The new frigates cannot be deployed as was originally intended.

The Navy had planned to leave the frigates for up to two years in the area of operation. To ensure such an intensive use, the frigates were equipped with automated systems that need very little maintenance and repair. Also, the crews are to rotate every four months to limit the absences from home for the members of the crew. To do so, the Navy needs eight crews for four frigates.

Since the Navy intends to operate two of the four vessels on a permanent basis and one of the vessels is designed to be under repair at the same time, there are not enough vessels in place for training purposes. For this reason, the Navy needs a naval operation training centre. However, the Federal Armed Forces have initiated the project much too late and assigned too little staff to the centre. This means that the centre will be operational about a decade later than intended. This puts at risk the entire planning of the Federal Armed Forces for making intensive use of the new frigates, and the additional expenditure on special equipment would not have been needed.

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