German Navy

The German Navy (German: Deutsche Marine or simply German: Marinelisten ) is the navy of Germany and part of the unified Bundeswehr ("Federal Defense"), the German Armed Forces. The German Navy was originally known as the Bundesmarine ("Federal Navy") from 1956 to 1995, when Deutsche Marine ("German Navy") became the official name with respect to the 1990 incorporation of the East German Volksmarine ("People's Navy"). It is deeply integrated into the NATO alliance. Its primary mission is protection of Germany's territorial waters and maritime infrastructure as well as sea lines of communication. Apart from this, the German Navy participates in peacekeeping operations, and renders humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. They also participate in Anti-Piracy operations.[2]

German Navy
Deutsche Marine
Bundeswehr Logo Marine with lettering
Founded2 January 1956
Country Germany
Size16,286 personnel (31 December 2018)[1]
65 ships
55 aircraft
Part ofBundeswehr
Headquarters of the German NavyRostock (Navy Command)
Motto(s)Wir. Dienen. Deutschland.
(We. Serve. Germany.)
ColorsBlack, White, Gold             
March"Gruß an Kiel"
Anniversaries14 June
Inspector of the NavyVice Admiral Andreas Krause
Deputy Inspector of the NavyVice Admiral Rainer Brinkmann
Chief of StaffRear Admiral Thorsten Kähler
Naval ensign
Naval Ensign of Germany


The German Navy traces its roots back to the Reichsflotte (Imperial Fleet) of the revolutionary era of 1848–52. The Reichsflotte was the first German navy to sail under the black-red-gold flag. Founded on 14 June 1848 by the orders of the democratically elected Frankfurt Parliament, the Reichsflotte's brief existence ended with the failure of the revolution and it was disbanded on 2 April 1852; thus, the modern day navy celebrates its birthday on 14 June.

Bundesarchiv B 145 Bild-F048237-0002, Kiel, Segelschiff "Gorch Fock", Matrose
Man of the German Navy during the 1970s

Between May 1945 and 1956, the German Mine Sweeping Administration and its successor organizations, made up of former members of Nazi Germany's Kriegsmarine ("War Navy"), became something of a transition stage for the navy, allowing the future Marine to draw on recently experienced personnel upon its formation. Also, from 1949-52 the US Navy had maintained the Naval Historical Team in Bremerhaven. This group of former Kriegsmarine officers acting as historical and tactical consultants to the Americans, was significant in establishing a German element in the NATO senior naval staff. In 1956, with West Germany's accession to NATO, the Bundesmarine ("Federal Navy"), as the navy was known colloquially, was formally established. In the same year the East German Volkspolizei See (literally "People's Police Sea") became the Volksmarine ("People's Navy"). During the Cold War all of the German Navy's combat vessels were assigned to NATO's Allied Forces Baltic Approaches's naval command NAVBALTAP.

With the accession of East Germany to the Federal Republic of Germany in 1990 the Volksmarine along with the whole National People's Army (Nationale Volksarmee, NVA) became part of the Bundeswehr. Since 1995 the name German Navy is used in international context, while the official name since 1956 remains Marine without any additions. As of 31 December 2018, the strength of the navy is 16,286 men and women.[1]

A number of naval forces have operated in different periods. See

Current operations

German warships permanently participate in all four NATO Maritime Groups. The German Navy is also engaged in operations against international terrorism such as Operation Enduring Freedom and NATO Operation Active Endeavour.

Presently the largest operation the German Navy is participating in is UNIFIL off the coast of Lebanon. The German contribution to this operation is two frigates, four fast attack craft, and two auxiliary vessels. The naval component of UNIFIL has been under German command.[3]

The navy is operating a number of development and testing installations as part of an inter-service and international network. Among these is the Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters (COE CSW), an affiliated centre of Allied Command Transformation. The COE CSW was established in April 2007 and officially accredited by NATO on 26 May 2009.[4] It is co-located with the staff of the German Flotilla 1 in Kiel whose Commander is double-hatted as Director, COE CSW.


Ships and submarines

In total, there are about 65 commissioned ships in the German Navy, including; 10 frigates, 5 corvettes, 3 minesweepers, 10 minehunters, 6 submarines, 11 replenishment ships and 20 miscellaneous auxiliary vessels. The displacement of the navy is 220,000 tonnes. In addition, the German Navy and the Royal Danish Navy are in cooperation in the "Ark Project". This agreement made the Ark Project responsible for the strategic sealift of German armed forces where the full-time charter of three roll-on-roll-off cargo and troop ships are ready for deployments. In addition, these ships are also kept available for the use of the other European NATO countries.

The three vessels have a combined displacement of 60,000 tonnes.[5][6] Including these ships, the total ships' displacement available to the Deutsche Marine is 280,000 tonnes.

A total of five Joint Support Ships, two JSS800 and three JSS400, were planned during the 1995–2010 period but the programme appears now to have been abandoned, not having been mentioned in two recent defence reviews. The larger ships would have been tasked for strategic troop transport and amphibious operations, and were to displace 27,000 to 30,000 tons for 800 soldiers.[7] The German Navy will use the Joint Support Ship HNLMS Karel Doorman (A833) of the Royal Netherlands Navy as part of the integration of the German Navy Marines (Seebatallion) in the Royal Netherlands Marine Corps as of 2016.


The naval air arm of the German Navy is called the Marinefliegerkommando. The Marinefliegerkommando operate 55 aircraft.

Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service Total Notes
Camcopter S-100 Austria UAV ISR 6 on order.
Dornier Do 228 Germany Propeller Pollution control 1996 2
Lockheed P-3C Orion – CUP USA Propeller MPA 2006 8 Former Royal Netherlands Navy
NH90 Sea Lion Germany Rotorcraft SAR / Transport 2018 2 16 on order, replacing Westland Sea King Mk.41
Westland Lynx Mk.88 UK Rotorcraft ASW 1981 22
Westland Sea King Mk.41 UK Rotorcraft SAR / Transport 1975 21 Being replaced by NH90 Sea Lion
German Navy P8 Pistol
A German Navy boarding team member assigned to the frigate Augsburg (F213) provides security with a P8 pistol for the remainder of his team as they board a local cargo hold by fast rope to conduct a search of the vessel


The German Navy is commanded by the Inspector of the Navy (Inspekteur der Marine) supported by the Navy Command (Marinekommando) in Rostock.


  • 1st Corvette Squadron (1. Korvettengeschwader), Warnemünde
  • 1st Submarine Squadron (1. Ubootgeschwader), Eckernförde
    • Submarine Training Centre (Ausbildungszentrum Unterseeboote), Eckernförde
  • 3rd Minesweeping Squadron (3. Minensuchgeschwader), Kiel
  • 5th Minesweeping Squadron (5. Minensuchgeschwader), Kiel
  • 7th Fast Patrol Boat Squadron (7. Schnellbootgeschwader), Warnemünde
  • Naval Force Protection Battalion, (Seebataillon), Eckernförde
  • Naval Special Forces Command, (Kommando Spezialkräfte Marine), Eckernförde
  • Naval Base Command Kiel (Marinestützpunktkommando Kiel)
  • Naval Base Command Eckernförde
  • Naval Base Command Warnemünde
  • HQ 2nd Flotilla
  • 2nd Frigate Squadron (2. Fregattengeschwader), Wilhelmshaven
  • 4th Frigate Squadron (4. Fregattengeschwader), Wilhelmshaven
  • Auxiliary Squadron (Trossgeschwader), Wilhelmshaven
  • Naval Base Command Wilhelmshaven
  • Naval Aviation Command (Marinefliegerkommando), Nordholz
  • Naval Air Wing 3 (Marinefliegergeschwader 3), Nordholz
  • Naval Air Wing 5 (Marinefliegergeschwader 5), Nordholz



NATO code OF-10 OF-9 OF-8 OF-7 OF-6 OF-5 OF-4 OF-3 OF-2 OF-1 OF(D) Student officer
Germany Germany
No equivalent MDS 64 Admiral Trp.svg
MDJA 64 Admiral Trp Lu.svg
MDS 63 Vizeadmiral Trp.svg
MDJA 63 Vizeadmiral Trp Lu.svg
MDS 62 Konteradmiral Trp.svg
MDJA 62 Konteradmiral Trp Lu.svg
MDS 61 Flottillenadmiral Trp.svg
MDJA 61 Flottillenadmiral Trp Lu.svg
MDS 53 Kapitän zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 53 Kapitän zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 52 Fregattenkapitän Trp.svg
MDJA 52 Fregattenkapitän Trp Lu.svg
MDS 51 Korvettenkapitän Trp.svg
MDJA 51 Korvettenkapitän Trp Lu.svg
MDS 44 Stabskapitänleutnant Trp.svg
MDJA 44 Stabskapitänleutnant Trp Lu.svg
MDS 43 Kapitänleutnant Trp.svg
MDJA 43 Kapitänleutnant Trp Lu.svg
MDS 42 Oberleutnant zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 42 Oberleutnant zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 41 Leutnant zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 41 Leutnant zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp.svg
MDJA 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg
MDS 21a Seekadett Trp.svg
MDJA 21a Seekadett Trp Lo.svg
Enlisted rank plus a star
indicating cadet's career
Admiral Vizeadmiral Konteradmiral Flottillen-
Kapitän zur See Fregatten-
zur See
zur See
zur See
zur See

Petty officers and enlisted seamen

NATO Code OR-9 OR-8 OR-7 OR-6 OR-5 OR-4 OR-3 OR-2 OR-1
Germany Germany
MDS 35 Oberstaabsbootsmann 20.svg MDS 34 Staabsbootsmann 10.svg MDS 33 Hauptbootsmann 70.svg MDS 32 Oberbootsmann 60.svg MDS 31 Bootsmann 30.svg MDS 22 Obermaat 30.svg MDS 21 Maat 10.svg MDS 16 Oberstabsgefreiter 70 L.svg MDS 15 Stabsgefreiter 60 L.svg MDS 14 Hauptgefreiter 50 L.svg MDS 13 Obergefreiter 30 L.svg MDS 12 Gefreiter 20 L.svg MDS 11 Matrose 10 L.svg
MDJA 35 Oberstabsbootsmann 30 Lu.svg MDJA 34 Stabsbootsmann 40 Lu.svg MDJA 33 Hauptbootsmann 50 Lu.svg MDJA 32 Oberbootsmann 70 Lu.svg MDJA 31 Bootsmann 60 Lu.svg MDJA 22 Obermaat 20 Lo.svg MDJA 21 Maat 10 Lo.svg MDJA 16 Oberstabsgefreiter 10 Lo.svg MDJA 15 Stabsgefreiter 20 Lo.svg MDJA 14 Hauptgefreiter 30 Lo.svg MDJA 13 Obergefreiter 40 Lo.svg MDJA 12 Gefreiter 50 Lo.svg MDJA 11 Matrose 81 Lo.svg
Oberstabsbootsmann Stabsbootsmann Hauptbootsmann Oberbootsmann Bootsmann Obermaat Maat Oberstabsgefreiter Stabsgefreiter Hauptgefreiter Obergefreiter Gefreiter Matrose
Germany Germany
(Officer designate)
No equivalent
MDS 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp.svg MDS 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp.svg MDS 21a Seekadett Trp.svg No equivalent
MDJA 33a Oberfähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg MDJA 31a Fähnrich zur See Trp Lu.svg MDJA 21a Seekadett Trp Lo.svg
Oberfähnrich zur See Fähnrich zur See Seekadett

Radio and communication stations

Future developments

  • A first batch of four frigates of the F125 class (Baden-Württemberg class) specialised for persistent stabilization missions is planned to replace all eight Bremen class guided-missile frigates. Each F125 will have two crews. They were to enter service in 2016, due to design & quality problems delayed into 2019.
  • Six large surface combat ships are planned under the name 'Mehrzweckkampfschiff 180' (MKS 180), a multi-mission destroyer.
  • Two more Type 212A submarines will be procured within the next decade.[8]
  • Five additional Braunschweig class corvettes will be procured from 2019–2023.[9]
  • 18 NH90 NFH Helicopters ordered to replace Lynx in ASW/AsuW role, originally ordered by the German Army as NH90 TTH variant.
  • Medium Sized Helicopters are planned to replace the current 22 Sea King helicopters of Naval Air Wing 5 in SAR & ship-based Transport Role (VertRep)
  • The Saab Skeldar has been ordered as a testbed for a future maritime UAV for the Braunschweig class corvette.[10]
  • Integration of the German Navy Marines (Seebatallion) in the Netherlands Marine Corps and use of the Amphibious ships of the Royal Netherlands Navy such as the Joint Support Ship HNLMS Karel Doorman (A833) as of 2016.
  • In May 2013 it was announced by both ministers of Defence that the German and Dutch Navy had agreed to integrate submarine operations, training, and design for future replacements.
  • MKS-180 Frigate project, 4 - 6 planned, primarily for ASW role and provided with AAW/ASuW suite for self-defence, introduction into service planned for 2025 - 2027.
  • 2 Combat Support Ships planned to replace Rhone-Class ships, introduction into service planned for 2025.

See also

Further reading (COE CSW)

  • Jan Wiedemann: COE CSW celebrates fifth anniversary; in: NAVAL FORCES III/2014 p. 90 f.
  • Hans-Joachim Stricker: Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters COE CSW – Das COE als Ausdruck unserer besonderen nationalen Fähigkeiten im Bündnis; in: Marineforum 6-2007 p. 3 f.
  • Fritz-Rudolf Weber: Centre of Excellence for Operations in Confined and Shallow Waters – Think Tank für die NATO; in: Marineforum 1/2-2010 p. 11 ff.
  • Hans Georg Buss, Stefan Riewesell: Maritime C-IED and Harbour Protection: A Joint Effort; in: The Transformer Fall 2013 Vol 9 Issue 2 p. 18
  • Rahn, Werner. "German Navies from 1848 to 2016: Their Development and Courses from Confrontation to Cooperation." Naval War College Review 70.4 (2017). online


  1. ^ a b "Die Stärke der Streitkräfte [Personnel strength of German Armed Forces]". 23 January 2019. Archived from the original on 22 August 2016. Retrieved 5 February 2019.
  2. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Bilanz und Ausblick". Archived from the original on 1 January 2009. Retrieved 18 December 2009.
  4. ^ Deutsche Marine – press release: Neues Nato-Expertenzentrum an der Kieler Förde nimmt Fahrt auf; Faermann, 2009
  5. ^ "The ships chartered for the ARK Project". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  6. ^ "The ARK project". Archived from the original on 28 November 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  7. ^ "Inspekteur der Marine : Zielvorstellung Marine 2025+" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 June 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  8. ^ Nachrichtenfernsehen, n-tv. "Marine stellt U36 in Dienst: Bundeswehr bekommt neue U-Boote". Archived from the original on 13 October 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  9. ^ "Koalition will Boote kaufen: Bundeswehr soll fünf neue Korvetten bekommen". Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung. 14 October 2016. ISSN 0174-4909. Archived from the original on 15 October 2016. Retrieved 8 November 2016.
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)

External links

Captain at sea

Captain at sea is a naval rank corresponding to command of a ship-of-the-line or capital ship.

The equivalent in other navies is ship-of-the-line captain or the naval rank of captain in the Commonwealth of Nations and the U.S. Navy.


Fregattenkapitän, short: FKpt / in lists: FK, (English: Frigate captain) is the middle senior officer rank (German: Stabsoffizier Rang) in the German Navy / armed forces of Germany (Bundeswehr).

Gorch Fock (1958)

The Gorch Fock is a tall ship of the German Navy (Deutsche Marine). She is the second ship of that name and a sister ship of the Gorch Fock built in 1933. Both ships are named in honour of the German writer Johann Kinau who wrote under the pseudonym "Gorch Fock" and died in the battle of Jutland/Skagerrak in 1916. The modern-day Gorch Fock was built in 1958 and has since then undertaken 146 cruises (as of October 2006), including one tour around the world in 1988. She is sometimes referred to (unofficially) as the Gorch Fock II to distinguish her from her older sister ship. The Gorch Fock is under the command of the Naval Academy in Flensburg-Mürwik.

Imperial German Navy

The Imperial German Navy (German: Kaiserliche Marine, "Imperial Navy") was the navy created at the time of the formation of the German Empire. It existed between 1871 and 1919, growing out of the small Prussian Navy (from 1867 the North German Federal Navy), which primarily had the mission of coastal defence. Kaiser Wilhelm II greatly expanded the navy, and enlarged its mission. The key leader was Admiral Alfred von Tirpitz, who greatly expanded the size and quality of the navy, while adopting the sea power theories of American strategist Alfred Thayer Mahan. The result was a naval arms race with Britain as the German navy grew to become one of the greatest maritime forces in the world, second only to the Royal Navy. The German surface navy proved ineffective during World War I; its only major engagement, the Battle of Jutland, was indecisive. However, the submarine fleet was greatly expanded and posed a major threat to the British supply system. The Imperial Navy's main ships were turned over to the Allies, but were sunk at Scapa Flow in 1919 by German crews.

All ships of the Imperial Navy were designated SMS, for Seiner Majestät Schiff ("His Majesty's Ship").


Konteradmiral, abbreviated KAdm or KADM, is the second lowest naval flag officer rank in the German Navy. It is equivalent to Generalmajor in the Heer and Luftwaffe or to Admiralstabsarzt and Generalstabsarzt in the Zentraler Sanitätsdienst der Bundeswehr.

In the German Navy Konteradmiral is equivalent to rear admiral, a two-star rank with a NATO code of OF-7. However, in the former German-speaking naval forces of the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine), the Nazi Kriegsmarine, the East German Volksmarine and the Austro-Hungarian K.u.K. Kriegsmarine, Konteradmiral was an OF-6 one-star officer rank.


Korvettenkapitän, short: KKpt / in lists: KK, (English: Corvette captain) is the lowest senior officer rank (German: Stabsoffizier Rang) in the German Navy / armed forces of Germany (Bundeswehr).


The Kriegsmarine (German pronunciation: [ˈkʁiːksmaˌʁiːnə], lit. "War Navy") was the navy of Nazi Germany from 1935 to 1945. It superseded the Imperial German Navy of the German Empire (1871–1918) and the inter-war Reichsmarine (1919–1935) of the Weimar Republic. The Kriegsmarine was one of three official branches, along with the Heer (Army) and the Luftwaffe (Air Force) of the Wehrmacht, the German armed forces from 1933 to 1945.

In violation of the Treaty of Versailles, the Kriegsmarine grew rapidly during German naval rearmament in the 1930s. The 1919 treaty had limited the size of the German navy previously, and prohibited the building of submarines.Kriegsmarine ships were deployed to the waters around Spain during the Spanish Civil War (1936–1939) under the guise of enforcing non-intervention, but in reality supported the Nationalist side against the Spanish Republicans.

In January 1939 Plan Z was ordered, calling for surface naval parity with the British Royal Navy by 1944. When World War II broke out in September 1939, Plan Z was shelved in favour of a crash building program for submarines (U-boats) instead of capital surface warships and land and air forces were given priority of strategic resources.

The Commander-in-Chief of the Kriegsmarine (as for all branches of armed forces during the period of absolute Nazi power) was the "Führer" Adolf Hitler, who exercised his authority through the Oberkommando der Marine.

The Kriegsmarine's most significant ships were the U-boats, most of which were constructed after Plan Z was abandoned at the beginning of World War II. Wolfpacks were rapidly assembled groups of submarines which attacked British convoys during the first half of the Battle of the Atlantic but this tactic was largely abandoned by May 1943 when U-boat losses mounted. Along with the U-boats, surface commerce raiders (including auxiliary cruisers) were used to disrupt Allied shipping in the early years of the war, the most famous of these being the heavy cruisers Admiral Graf Spee and Admiral Scheer and the battleship Bismarck. However, the adoption of convoy escorts, especially in the Atlantic, greatly reduced the effectiveness of surface commerce raiders against convoys.

After the Second World War in 1945, the Kriegsmarine's remaining ships were divided up among the Allied powers and were used for various purposes including minesweeping.

List of ships of the Imperial German Navy

The list of ships of the Imperial German Navy includes all ships commissioned into service with the Imperial German Navy (Kaiserliche Marine) of Germany, covering the period from 1871, the creation of the German Empire, through to the end of the Empire in 1918.

List of shipwrecks in April 1917

The list of shipwrecks in April 1917 includes ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during April 1917.

List of shipwrecks in August 1917

The list of shipwrecks in August 1917 includes some ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during August 1917.

List of shipwrecks in July 1917

The list of shipwrecks in July 1917 includes some ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during July 1917.

List of shipwrecks in June 1917

The list of shipwrecks in June 1917 includes some ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during June 1917.

List of shipwrecks in March 1917

The list of shipwrecks in March 1917 includes some ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during March 1917.

List of shipwrecks in May 1917

The list of shipwrecks in May 1917 includes some ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during May 1917.

List of shipwrecks in September 1917

The list of shipwrecks in September 1917 includes some ships sunk, foundered, grounded, or otherwise lost during September 1917.

S/V Noorderlicht

S/V Noorderlicht (Northern Light or Aurora Borealis) is a two-masted schooner built in 1910 as a light sailing vessel for the German Navy. Since the 1990s, she has served as one of the expedition cruise vessels for Oceanwide Expeditions, sailing to some of the most remote locations in the Arctic, particularly the Norwegian archipelago of Svalbard.


U-boat is an anglicised version of the German word U-Boot [ˈuːboːt] (listen), a shortening of Unterseeboot, literally "underseaboat." While the German term refers to any submarine, the English one (in common with several other languages) refers specifically to military submarines operated by Germany, particularly in the First and Second World Wars. Although at times they were efficient fleet weapons against enemy naval warships, they were most effectively used in an economic warfare role (commerce raiding) and enforcing a naval blockade against enemy shipping. The primary targets of the U-boat campaigns in both wars were the merchant convoys bringing supplies from Canada and other parts of the British Empire, and from the United States to the United Kingdom and (during the Second World War) to the Soviet Union and the Allied territories in the Mediterranean. German submarines also destroyed Brazilian merchant ships during World War II, causing Brazil to declare war on the Axis powers in 1944.

Austro-Hungarian Navy submarines were also known as U-boats.


Vizeadmiral, short VAdm in lists VADM, (en: Vice admiral) is a senior naval flag officer rank in the German Navy. It is equivalent to Generalleutnant in the Heer and Luftwaffe or to Admiraloberstabsarzt and/or Generaloberstabsarzt in the Zentraler Sanitätsdienst der Bundeswehr.

In the German Navy Vizeadmiral is, as in many navies, a three-star rank with a NATO code of OF-8. However, in other German speaking naval forces, e.g. Kaiserliche Marine, Kriegsmarine, Volksmarine, and the Austro-Hungarian K.u.K. Kriegsmarine, Vizeadmiral was an OF-7 two-star flag officer rank.

German Navy
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History and Traditions
Prussian Navy
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Ranks and insignia
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Current navies in Europe
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