Last week German Navy frigate, FGS Brandenburg, completed her transit through the Suez Canal and the Red Sea towards the waters of the Gulf of Aden to start counter piracy operations with the EU Naval Force Somalia, Operation Atalanta.
The Suez Canal, which is 162 kilometres in length is an extremely busy shipping lane, that requires a high degree of navigation expertise.
The tension on the warship’s bridge increased as the frigate approached Port Said, the northern entrance to the Suez Channel. At its narrowest point the channel is only 150 metres wide and a high level of concentration is required by all the crew.
“When in convoy through the channel, you have to keep a set distance from the vessel in front. You have to stay in the centre of the channel, as it is shallow on both sides and that’s why the Suez Channel is one way traffic, you can only sail in one direction.” the Bridge Watch Officer commented.
During FGS Brandenburg’s transit, a US Carrier Strike Group of warships appeared over the horizon. Besides two ‘cruisers’ of the Ticonderoga class, two Arleigh Burke class destroyers, a supply ship, and the nuclear-powered Aircraft Carrier, the presence of the USNS Harry S. Truman ” was the absolute highlight for the German Navy sailors. All the crew on the upper deck took the opportunity to get out their cameras to capture this unique and impressive Aircraft Carrier.
When the warships passed each other, a traditional navy saluting ceremony was carried out. All the servicemen and women not on watch lined up on the Upper Deck and came to attention and saluted each ship as a ceremonial ‘piping’ was carried out.
FGS Brandenburg will be part of Operation Atalanta for 4 months. She will take over as the EU Naval Force flagship on Sunday 6 April.
Press Release, April 4, 2014; Image: EU NAVFOR