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Keel laid for German Navy’s first F126 frigate

Keel laid for German Navy’s first F126 frigate
Photo: Damen Naval
Damen Naval Press Release

Milestone in the largest procurement project in the history of the German Navy: the keel laying ceremony for the first F126 class frigate took place on June 3 at the Peene Werft shipyard in Wolgast in the presence of German Federal Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius. The ship will later be christened Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). Minister President of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Manuela Schwesig and Minister President of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil among the guests of honour.

Six months after the start of construction at NVL Group’s Peene-Werft shipyard, the F126 project team has reached another milestone on June 3 with keel laying of the first frigate, which will bear the name Niedersachsen (Lower Saxony). The keel laying was carried out on schedule and is the next step in the production phase of the largest procurement project in the history of the German Navy. The construction contract comprises a total of four frigates of the new 126 class, and there is an option for two further vessels. The cost of the project amounts to more than five billion euros.

The presence of the German Federal Minister of Defence, Boris Pistorius, the Minister President of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania (Mecklenburg-Vorpommern), Manuela Schwesig, the Minister President of Lower Saxony (Niedersachsen, after which the vessel is named), Stephan Weil, and Inspector of the German Navy, Vice Admiral Jan Christian Kaack, underlines the enormous importance of the project for Germany, the German shipbuilding industry, and the German Navy.

Minister President of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania Manuela Schwesig (left) and Minister President of Lower Saxony Stephan Weil watch on as German Federal Minister of Defence Boris Pistorius hammers in the first nail of the plaque with the memorial coin

The ships are being built entirely in Germany. In the coming months, work will begin in parallel at the German Naval Yards shipyard in Kiel, which is also involved in the project, and at the NVL Group shipyard Blohm+Voss in Hamburg. The sterns will be built in Wolgast, while the foreships will be built in Kiel. There, the frigates will be assembled and towed by sea to Blohm+Voss in Hamburg for final outfitting, commissioning, and testing. Hundreds of suppliers throughout Germany are involved in the project. The economic power of the project will thus be felt across the country and secure thousands of jobs.

The F126 project is making a significant contribution to the modernisation and expansion of the German Navy’s capabilities and is a flagship project in the implementation of this transformation. With its reliable operational availability, the F126 makes an effective contribution to strengthening NATO. As envisaged in the German Navy's 2035+ vision, the F126 is globally deployable, highly flexible, and modular in design to meet the demands of robust national and Allied defence missions.

The F126 project is also an excellent example of successful cooperation between the European defence industry. The partners Damen, Blohm+Voss and Thales have been working closely together since the beginning of the tender and are jointly realising the high requirements of the German Navy. This cooperation strengthens the technological sovereignty of Germany and the Netherlands and is a prime example of bilateral cooperation and procurement in Europe.

The plaque was then placed under the keel

The project also lays the foundation for future construction projects. The industry is ready for the construction of the optional ships 5 and 6, and the timely release of the corresponding options by the Budget Committee of the German Bundestag would offer further economic and strategic advantages.

Roland Briene, Managing Director of Damen Naval: “The keel laying for the first F126 class frigate is a major milestone in the cooperation between German and Dutch shipyards and an example of European teamwork. Together, we want to provide the German Navy with the best possible ships. Damen is proud to be able to make her contribution.”

Boris Pistorius, Federal Minister of Defence: “With the construction of the F126 frigates, we are securing the future operational readiness and assertiveness of the German Navy for the challenges of the future. The F126 can engage targets under water, on the water and in the air with state-of-the-art weapons. The current threat situation shows us how important deterrence and defence are in the North Sea and Baltic Sea, but also on the world's oceans. With the F126, the Navy has exactly the right tool for these tasks, including those with our allies.”

The VIP guests are celebrating the success of the keel laying ceremony

Stephan Weil, Minister President of Lower Saxony: “It is a special honour for the state of Lower Saxony that the first ship of the new class of F126 frigates will set sail under the name Niedersachsen. As namesakes and guardians of this ship, we are continuing a long and good tradition that emphasises Lower Saxony’s special connection to the navy. This bond is symbolised not least by the fact that Germany’s largest naval base is located in Wilhelmshaven. The construction of the Niedersachsen-class ships will help to ensure that northern Germany remains an important location for surface shipbuilding and key maritime technologies. I wish the shipyards in Wolgast, Kiel and Hamburg continued success during the construction period!”

Manuela Schwesig, Minister President of Mecklenburg-Vorpommern: “With the construction of the stern sections of the four frigates, Peene-Werft is involved in the largest shipbuilding contract in the history of the German Navy: a Dutch-German co-operation project with an order volume of more than 5 billion euros. The order secures jobs at the Peene shipyard in Wolgast. The state government has always stood by the shipyards because we were convinced of this even in difficult times: the maritime economy is an important industrial sector. The shipyards, the suppliers, the ports, the industrial producers right on the quayside - that is the industrial heart of our state.”

Tim Wagner, CEO of the NVL Group: “We have been working with the main contractor Damen on the F126 programme in a spirit of trust for years and are getting it off the ground together. Our German Blohm+Voss sites and the Peene shipyard as production location in Mecklenburg-Vorpommern are two important pillars of our company and have excellent and highly committed workforces. The shipyards create important industrial jobs, thereby strengthening the regional economy and offering exciting prospects for young talent. Above all, however, they create identity and cohesion. And we are particularly proud of that.”

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