A keel-laying ceremony at the Western Baltija Shipbuilding shipyard in Kleipeda, Lithuania, on June 22 marked the official start of construction of two next-generation experimentation and test support ships for the German Navy.
Designed according to civil standards, the instrumentation ships will take into account the special requirements of military research and testing and will be delivered at a total cost of 95 million euros.
The two new ships will be known as Messboote Seeversuche Küste (SVK), which roughly translates to sea and shore trial instrumentation ships.
They will be operated by the German Navy’s maritime technology research arm Wehrtechnische Dienststelle (WTD) 71, and will replace the multi-purpose boats of the 745 class ‘Breitgrund’ and ‘Mittelgrund’ from the 1980s, as well as the over 50-year-old bulky weapon test boat ‘Wilhelm Pullwer.’
Measuring 50 meters in length and 11 meters in width, the units will be equipped with a crane and a rear gallows, among other things. In order to ensure the necessary maneuverability for the tests, the boats each have two 360-degree rotatable rudder propeller drives and two bow thrusters.
They will also have the ability to carry 20-foot containers on the main deck, accommodating different equipment depending on the type and the purpose of the test.
The new measuring boats are primarily used in the North and Baltic Seas, where they be responsible for securing and salvaging torpedoes as part of tests, for example. In addition, they will support the use of autonomous underwater vehicles and divers within the scope of defense technical examinations of diving devices and equipment. The measuring boats can also be used to accompany submarines during their shallow water tests.
The hulls will be entirely built at the Western Baltija Shipbuilding shipyard in Klaipeda, Lithuania, from where they will transferred to the Fassmer shipyard in Germany for final outfitting. The first unit is expected to start the outfitting October 2022, with the second boat following suit in December.
The German defense ministry and Fassmer signed the contract for the delivery of the two ships in July 2021.
WTD 71 expects to receive the first of the new boats by June 2023, and the second one in November 2023.