FGS Lübeck, the final of German Navy’s once eight-strong fleet of Bremen-class frigates still in service, got underway from its home port for a final operational mission before retirement.
FGS Lübeck departed Wilhelmshaven on January 17 for a deployment to the Aegean Sea, where it will support NATO activity in the eastern Mediterranean.
This will be Lübeck’s final mission in its 32 years of service.
“My crew and I are now returning to the Aegean after four months at home,” says the ship’s commander, frigate captain Kai Röckel. “At home we were able to master extensive repairs and tests and are now as well prepared as possible for our upcoming assignment.”
Once in the operational area in the sea between Greece and Turkey, the ship will be part of the Standing NATO Maritime Group 2 (SNMG2), where it is expected to stay until the summer.
The crew expects to work closely with the Turkish and Greek Coast Guards and the European Border and Coast Guard Agency (FRONTEX). The main task of the frigate will be to monitor the sea space.
With the Lübeck, the German Navy will also be taking part in NATO’s multinational rapid reaction force, the Very High Readiness Joint Task Force (VJTF). With the VJTF, NATO can react quickly and flexibly to security developments, as assets assigned to it can be relocated within 48 to 72 hours – including the Lübeck.
“By arriving home in June, we will probably have been at sea for eight months within the last twelve months under corona conditions, i.e. without going ashore. That is a heavy burden for everyone,” Röckel looks ahead. “With the necessary professionalism and the motivation of my crew, the ‘Lucky Lübeck’ will also manage the planned final mission of its 32-year service life.”
Also referred to as the F122 class, the Bremen-class were considered German Navy workhorses ever since they started entering service in the 1980s. Designed and built at the end of the Cold War, F122 ships were geared for submarine hunting in the North Sea and North Atlantic.
They were also the first German frigate class to be equipped with on-board helicopters – today a standard for all frigate classes.
But the frigates can also take on other tasks, including defending themselves and other nearby ships against enemy aircraft and missiles with Sea Sparrow anti-aircraft missiles. Anti-surface warfare capability is provided with the Harpoon anti-ship missiles. Over the years, the frigate Lübeck was retrofitted several times with new systems, including today’s standard naval light guns and the RIM-116 Rolling Airframe Missile.
The 3,600-ton frigates are being replaced by the gargantuan 7,200-ton Baden Wurttemberg-class of frigates.