After spending six months at sea, German Navy’s Frankenthal-class mine hunter Weilheim returned to its homeport in Kiel, Germany on February 7.
The German Navy 3rd Squadron ship was part of both the German contribution to NATO’s mine countermeasures group, the Standing NATO Mine Counter Measures Group 2 (SNMCMG2), and the EU operation Sophia in the Mediterranean Sea.
Weilheim’s 40-man crew left their harbor August 14, 2015 under the command of Frigate Captain Felix Uhlemann and 15 days later joined the NATO group in Split, Croatia. The international maritime group is currently under Turkish command. Working alongside the Turkish flagship TCG Cezayirli Gazi Hasan Pasa, Weilheim spent four months operating with mine countermeasures units from Turkey, Greece, Spain and Italy. In that period, Weilheim participated in exercies Trident Juncture and Ariadne.
The Weilheim thereafter joined the EUNAVFOR Med Op Sophia in early December. The ship was actually on its way home when it received the second assignment. This was necessary as the frigate FGS Augsburg left the EU-operation to join the French aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle in the Arabian Gulf.
The Weilheim has completed both missions and is now back in the harbor having sailed 18.000 sea miles during the previous six months.
Dillingen leaves Kiel
Weilheim’s sister ship, the FGS Dillingen shared the Kiel harbor with Weilheim for just one day as it set sail to join the NATO SNMCMG 1 on February 8.
It is scheduled to spend the next four months with the international group. Commanded by Lieutenant Commander Marcus Fiene, the 40- man crew will join SNMCMG 1 in Neustadt, Germany, where it will complete the DAMCONEX Crew Training. The group will thereafter head for the Dutch and Belgian coasts. Dillingen will work with mine countermeasures vessels of other NATO states in a number of exercises scheduled for the next four months. Among others , the ship will participate in NATO’s ‘Open Spirit’ and ‘Baltops’.
Dillingen will leave the group in June and head for their homebase in Kiel where they hope to return in time for the ‘Kieler Woche’, which is an annual sailing event in Kiel, Germany, often deemed the largest sailing event in the world.