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German Navy
Founded2 January 1956; 68 years ago (1956-01-02)
Country Germany
Size16,500 personnel (March 2021)[1]
65 ships
56 aircraft
Part ofBundeswehr
Headquarters of the German NavyRostock (Navy Command)
Motto(s)Wir. Dienen. Deutschland.
(We. Serve. Germany.)
March"Gruß an Kiel [de]"
Anniversaries14 June
Inspector of the NavyVice Admiral Jan Christian Kaack
Deputy Inspector of the NavyVice Admiral Rainer Brinkmann
Chief of StaffRear Admiral Frank Martin Lenski [de]

The German Navy (German: Deutsche Marine, pronounced [ˈdɔʏtʃə maˈʁiːnə] ) 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. It also participates in anti-piracy operations.[2]


Further information: Naval history of World War II

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.

A sailor of the West 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 to 1952 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 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 April 2020, the strength of the navy is 16,704 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 operates 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

See also: List of active German Navy ships

A Baden-Württemberg-class frigate in Wilhelmshaven in April 2017

In total, there are about 65 commissioned ships in the German Navy, including; 11 frigates, 5 corvettes, 2 minesweepers, 10 minehunters, 6 submarines, 11 replenishment ships and 20 miscellaneous auxiliary vessels. The displacement of the navy is 220,000 tonnes.

Ships of the German Navy include:

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.[7][8] Including these ships, the total ships' displacement available to the Deutsche Marine is 280,000 tonnes.

Procurement of joint support ships (either two JSS800 for an amphibious group of 800 soldiers, or three smaller JSS400), was 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.[9]


See also: Marineflieger

The naval air arm of the German Navy is called the Marinefliegerkommando. The Marinefliegerkommando operates 56 aircraft, in May 2021 it was announced that the German Navy intended to replace the P-3C aircraft with Boeing P-8 Poseidon MPA aircraft through a FMS agreement from 2025 onwards.[10]

Type Origin Class Role Introduced In service Total Notes
Lockheed P-3C Orion – CUP United States MPA 2006 4 Former Royal Netherlands Navy, will be replaced in 2025 by 8 Boeing P-8 Poseidon
Boeing P-8 Poseidon United States MPA 8 on order, entry into service 2025.[11][12]
Dornier 228 Germany Pollution control 1996 2
NH90 Sea Lion Germany Rotorcraft SAR/transport 2018 18[13] replacing the Westland Sea King
NH90 Sea Tiger Germany Rotorcraft ASW 2025 Total of 31 on order, replacing Westland Lynx[14]
Westland Lynx Mk.88 UK Rotorcraft ASW 1981 21 Will be replaced by the NH90 Sea Tiger
Westland Sea King Mk.41 UK Rotorcraft SAR/transport 1975 14 Being replaced by the NH90 Sea Lion
Sea Falcon Sweden UAV ISR 2 Used as testbed for future UAVs on the corvettes, 8 more planned
Puma AE II United States UAV ISR 2019 6 3 systems with 6 UAVs, dubbed "LARUS" in the German Navy[15]
DJI Phantom 4 China Micro UAV ISR 2017 5 [16]
Westland WG-13 Super Lynx Mk88a of the German Navy
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.


  • HQ 2nd Flotilla
  • 2nd Frigate Squadron (2. Fregattengeschwader), Wilhelmshaven
  • 4th Frigate Squadron (4. Fregattengeschwader), Wilhelmshaven
  • Auxiliary Squadron (Trossgeschwader), Wilhelmshaven
  • Naval Base Command Wilhelmshaven
  • Naval Air Wing 3 (Marinefliegergeschwader 3), Nordholz
  • Naval Air Wing 5 (Marinefliegergeschwader 5), Nordholz
Mürwik Naval School


Main article: Rank insignia of the German Bundeswehr


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
 German Navy[17]
Enlisted rank plus a star
indicating cadet's career
Admiral Vize­admiral Konter­admiral Flottillen­admiral Kapitän zur See Fregatten­kapitän Korvetten­kapitän Stabskapitän­leutnant Kapitän­leutnant Oberleutnant
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
 German Navy[17]
No insignia
Oberstabs­bootsmann Stabs­bootsmann Haupt­bootsmann Ober­bootsmann Bootsmann Obermaat Maat Stabskorporal Korporal Oberstabs­gefreiter Stabs­gefreiter Haupt­gefreiter Ober­gefreiter Gefreiter Matrose
 German Navy
(Officer designate)
Oberfähnrich zur See Fähnrich zur See Seekadett

Radio and communication stations

Future developments

See also


  1. ^ a b "Aktuelle Personalzahlen der Bundeswehr [Current personnel numbers of the Federal Defence]". Retrieved 7 May 2021.
  2. ^ "Marine". Archived from the original on 31 March 2017. Retrieved 30 March 2017.
  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. ^ "Neue Fregatte "Rheinland-Pfalz" in 2021 beginnen". Süddeutsche Zeitung. 28 September 2020.
  6. ^ "Germany's K130 Batch 2 Corvette Program 2 Years Behind Schedule". 17 October 2022.
  7. ^ "The ships chartered for the ARK Project". Archived from the original on 8 June 2011. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  8. ^ "The ARK project". Archived from the original on 28 November 2010. Retrieved 27 October 2010.
  9. ^ "Inspekteur der Marine : Zielvorstellung Marine 2025+" (PDF). Archived (PDF) from the original on 1 June 2010. Retrieved 14 March 2016.
  10. ^ Seidenstuecker, Hans. "Germany backs 1.4 bln euro purchase of Boeing maritime patrol aircraft – source". Reuters. Retrieved 25 June 2021.
  11. ^ "Germany bought five p-8 poseidon worth 1.1 billion euros". global defense corp. 3 July 2021. Retrieved 7 July 2021.
  12. ^ "Beschaffung neuer Dingos und Seefernaufklärer gebilligt". 21 December 2023.
  13. ^ "Marine hat jetzt alle Sea Lion".
  14. ^ Thomas Wiegold (31 July 2019). "Marine soll NH90-Hubschrauber als Ersatz für SeaLynx bekommen (m. Nachtrag)". Augen geradeaus!. Retrieved 7 August 2019.
  15. ^ "Puma AE für die Marine – FLUG REVUE". Archived from the original on 22 September 2020.
  16. ^ "Neue Planungen zu bewaffneten und bewaffnungsfähigen Drohnen" (PDF). (in German). 6 March 2018. Retrieved 28 June 2023.
  17. ^ a b "Dienstgradabzeichen Marine". (in German). Bundeswehr. Retrieved 30 May 2021.
  18. ^ "Chinook-Helikopter, Flottendienstboote, luftlandefähige Fahrzeuge für die Truppe". (in German). 13 July 2023. Retrieved 14 July 2023.
  20. ^ Press releases. "Ceremony for the major submarine contracts between Norway and Germany". thyssenkrupp. Retrieved 30 August 2021.
  21. ^ "Norway and Germany sign agreements for submarine and missile acquisition". Norwegian Defence Materiel Agency. Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  22. ^ "NTKMS To Build Six Type 212CD Submarines For German And Norwegian Navies". (TKMS press release). Retrieved 10 July 2021.
  23. ^ "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.
  24. ^ "Hubschrauberdrohne Skeldar V-200 für deutsche Marine –". 29 August 2018. Archived from the original on 30 September 2018. Retrieved 30 September 2018.
  25. ^ Vavasseur, Xavier (18 December 2020). "Germany and the Netherlands Joining Forces for F-124 / LCF Frigate Replacement". Naval News. Retrieved 14 March 2021.

Further reading