The 29 crew of German air-independent propulsion submarine U 35 have deployed on a somewhat peculiar mission that will see them monitor shipping activity in the Mediterranean Sea and help enforce a United Nations arms embargo on Libya.
The mission is officially called operation Irini and also covers monitoring and gathering information on illicit exports of petroleum, crude oil and refined petroleum products.
U 35, widely regarded as one of the most advanced non-nuclear submarines, got underway from its homeport in Eckernförde on June 12. The core crew will be embarking some additional trainees, who will use the opportunity for intensive training in shipboard operations.
The deployment is expected to last four months and conclude in October this year.
“After the long and strenuous mission preparation, there is great anticipation among the crew for the upcoming mission,” says Commander Brux, elaborating, “The mission is both a reward and a burden. Both the crew and their families at home will be challenged in equal measure. Only together is it possible to approach an absence of more than four months with the necessary composure.”
U35 will need three weeks to reach the Mediterranean, counting a supply stop in Rota on Spain’s Atlantic coast. The area of operations itself stretches in the central and southern Mediterranean south of the island of Sicily to the territorial waters of Libya and Tunisia.
According to the German Navy, the role of the German submarine will be to serve as a long-range reconnaissance platform, with sonar systems that can monitor ship movements over a wide radius.
During the deployment, the submarine will operate from several ports in Italy and Malta. In addition, about halfway through the mission, the crew is scheduled to enjoy an extended port call in Crete, which will also provide an opportunity to reunite crew members with their families for a few days.
It should be noted that this is the first disclosed deployment of U 35 since it damaged its rudder in the Norwegian fjords in 2017 during deep water testing.