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Sachsen-class frigate
F220 Hamburg in the Mediterranean in March 2013
Class overview
Builders: Blohm + Voss
Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft
Operators:  German Navy
Preceded by: Lütjens class destroyer
Completed: 3
Active: Sachsen
General characteristics
Displacement: 5,800 tonnes
Length: 143.0m
Beam: 17.44m
Draft: 6.0m
Propulsion: CODAG (combined diesel and gas)
2 propeller shafts, controllable pitch propellers
2 MTU V20 diesel engines, 7.4 MW each
1 General Electric LM2500 gas turbine
2 Renk ASM 195 F gearboxes (for the diesel engines)
1 Renk AS 2/290 gearbox (gas turbine and cross connection)
4 1000 kW Deutz 16/628 diesel-generators
Speed: 29 knots
Range: 4,000+ nautical miles at 18 kn (7,400+ km at 33 km/h)
Complement: 230 crew + 13 aircrew
Sensors and
processing systems:
1 Thales Nederland SMART-L long-range air and surface surveillance radar (D band)
1 Thales Nederland APAR air and surface search, tracking and guidance radar (I band)
1 Thales Nederland Sirius IRST long-range infrared surveillance and tracking system (fitted for but not with)
2 STN Atlas 9600-M multi-function I/J band ARPA radars
1 STN Atlas MSP 500 electro-optical fire control system
1 STN Atlas DSQS-24B bow sonar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
1 FL 1800 S II ECM suite
6 Sippican Hycor SRBOC launcher
Aircraft carried: 2 Sea Lynx Mk.88A or 2 NH90 helicopters equipped with torpedoes, air-to-surface missiles Sea Skua, and/or heavy machine gun.

The F124 Sachsen class is Germany's latest class of highly advanced air-defense frigates. The design of the Sachsen class frigate is based on that of the F123 Brandenburg class but with enhanced stealth features intended to deceive any opponent's radar and acoustic sensors and incorporate also the advanced multifunction radar APAR as well as the SMART-L long-range radar which is claimed to be capable of detecting stealth aircraft and stealth missiles. Although designated as frigates, they are in capability and size comparable to destroyers.

At €2.1 billion for only three ships, this was one of the most expensive ship building programs of the German Navy. They are similar to the Dutch De Zeven Provinciën class frigates. Both the Sachsen class and the De Zeven Provinciën class frigates are based on the use of a common primary anti-air warfare system built around the APAR and SMART-L radars and the area-defence SM-2 Block IIIA and point-defence Evolved Sea Sparrow Missile (ESSM) surface-to-air missiles.

In June 1996 the German government contracted for three ships with an option on a fourth that was provisionally to have been named as the Thüringen, but the option for this fourth ship was not taken up.

The F124 class frigates are larger and much more capable in all aspects than the Lütjens class destroyers, which they replaced.


General characteristics and machinery

F221 Hessen at Kiel Week in 2007

The ships of the Sachsen class are 132.15 meters (433.6 ft) long at the waterline and 143 m (469 ft) long overall. They have a beam of 17.44 m (57.2 ft) and a draft of 5 m (16 ft), though the draft increases to 7 m (23 ft) at the sonar array in the bulbous bow. They displace 5,690 long tons (5,780 t) at full load. Steering is controlled by a single roll-stabilized rudder; the ships have a turning radius of 570 m (1,870 ft). The frigates have a crew of 38 officers, 64 petty officers, and 140 enlisted sailors. They have accommodations for an additional thirteen officers and sailors as part of a squadron commander's staff, and they have crew provisions for female sailors. The ships can remain at sea for 21 days at a time.[1]

The ships' hulls were designed on the pattern of the previous Brandenburg class to allow for great commonality of parts to reduce maintenance costs; they were built using MEKO modular construction and incorporate seven watertight compartments. The primary improvement over the earlier vessels is significantly the reduced radar signature. The ships were designed with a capacity for an extra 270 long tons (270 t) of weight, to allow for future additions of new weapons and sensors without compromising the ships' efficiency.[1]

The ships of the Sachsen class are equipped with a combined diesel and gas (CODAG) propulsion system. The two operating shafts work independently. The diesel engines are installed in a non-walkable sound-proof capsule. The shafts drive two five-bladed variable pitch propellers. The GE7 LM2500 PF/MLG gas turbine is rated at 31,500 shaft horsepower (23,500 kW) and the MTU 20V 1163 TB93 diesels provide a combined 20,100 brake horsepower (15,000 kW). The total 51,600 hp (38,500 kW) propulsion system provides a top speed of 29 knots (54 km/h; 33 mph); while operating the diesels only, the ships can cruise for 4,000 nautical miles (7,400 km; 4,600 mi) at a speed of 18 kn (33 km/h; 21 mph). The ships are equipped with four 1,000 Kilowatt diesel generators that operate at 400 Volts (V) and 115 V.[1]


Sachsen launching an SM-2 missile

These ships were optimized for the anti-air warfare role. The primary anti-air weapons are the 32-cell Mk 41 Mod 10 vertical launching system, equipped with twenty-four SM-2 Block IIIA missiles and thirty-two Evolved Sea Sparrow missiles. Point-defense against cruise missiles is provided by a pair of 21-round Rolling Airframe Missile launchers. The ships are also equipped with two four-cell RGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missile launchers.[1]

For defense against submarines, the frigates carry two triple-launchers for the 324 mm (12.8 in) MU90 Impact torpedoes. The ships also carry a variety of guns, including one dual-purpose 62-caliber 76-millimeter (3.0 in) gun manufactured by OTO Melara. They are also armed with two Rheinmetall 27 mm (1.1 in) MLG 27 remote-controlled autocannons in single mounts.[1]

In January 2003, Hamburg had a modified Panzerhaubitze 2000 turret with a 155 mm (6.1 in) gun fitted experimentally for the Modular Naval Artillery Concept. The experiment was a feasibility study for the projected F125-class frigate. The gun had a range of 40 nmi (74 km; 46 mi) and a rate of fire of 10 rounds per minute.[1]

Sachsen and her sister ships are equipped with a flight deck and hangar that can accommodate two Super Lynx or NH90 helicopters. The flight deck is rated to accommodate a 15 t (15 long tons; 17 short tons) helicopter in conditions up to sea state 6. The helicopter handling system from MBB-Förder und Hebesysteme uses laser guided and computer controlled manipulator arms to secure the helicopter after landing.[1]

Sensors and countermeasures

The APAR radar

For this role the ships are equipped with an advanced sensor and weapons suite. The primary sensors for this role are the long range surveillance radar SMART-L and the multi-function radar APAR. The SMART-L and APAR are highly complementary, in the sense that SMART-L is a D band radar providing very long range surveillance while APAR is an I band radar providing precise target tracking, a highly capable horizon search capability, and missile guidance using the Interrupted Continuous Wave Illumination (ICWI) technique, thus allowing guidance of 32 semi-active radar homing missiles in flight simultaneously, including 16 in the terminal guidance phase.[2]

The radars include the Thales Nederland SMART-L long-range surveillance radar, the Thales Nederland APAR multi-function radar, and two STN Atlas 9600-M ARPA navigation radars.

The STN Atlas MSP 500 electro-optical fire control system provides target acquisition and tracking for the main gun. The bow sonar is the STN Atlas Elektronik DSQS-24B.

The ship's electronic countermeasures suite includes an EADS Systems and Defence Electronics FL1800 SII ECM system and six Sippican Hycor SuperRBOC launchers which fire chaff and flares. Electronic support measures are provided by EADS Systems and Defence Electronics Maigret CESM (Communications ESM).


Name Call
Shipyard Laid down Launched Delivered Com-
F219 Sachsen DRAA Blohm + Voss February 1, 1999 January 20, 2001 November 29, 2002 December 31, 2003
F220 Hamburg DRAB HDW September 1, 2000 August 16, 2002 September 2004 December 13, 2004
F221 Hessen DRAC Nordseewerke September 14, 2001 July 26, 2003 December 7, 2005 April 21, 2006
(F222) Thüringen option not taken-up

Service history

Hamburg refueling alongside USS Dwight D. Eisenhower

All three vessels form part of the 2. Fregattengeschwader (2nd Frigate Squadron) based in Wilhelmshaven.

In August 2004, the Sachsen completed a series of live missile firings at the Point Mugu missile launch range off the coast of California that included a total of 11 ESSM and 10 SM-2 Block IIIA missiles.[2] The tests included firings against target drones such as the Northrop Grumman BQM-74E Chukar III and Teledyne Ryan BQM-34S Firebee I, as well as against missile targets such as the Beech AQM-37C and air-launched Kormoran 1 anti-ship missiles.[2]

End of March in 2013 The Hamburg (F220) became the first German ship to fully integrate into an American carrier strike group.[3] It is commanded by Cmdr. Ralf Kuchler who hopes along with Rear Adm. Michael Manazir (Commander of Carrier Strike Group 8) that it is the beginning of a long partnership between the two countries. While this is the first time a German ship has been part of a carrier strike group, it is not the first time one has trained and deployed with American ships. FGS Hessen (F221) completed interoperability exercises and deployed with USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75) in 2010, but detached in the Mediterranean Sea. German ships routinely collaborate with American ships in the European Union's Operation Atalanta, an anti-piracy mission around the Horn of Africa, as Hamburg did in 2011.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 Wertheim, p. 245
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 Jane's Navy International, October 2005, "Live firing tests rewrite the guiding principles"
  3. Gorman, Timothy. "Hamburg First Ship to Deploy with US carrier Strike Group". navy. Retrieved 21 April 2013. 


  • Friedman, Norman (2006). The Naval Institute Guide to World Naval Weapon Systems. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781557502629. 
  • Wertheim, Eric (2007). The Naval Institute Guide to Combat Fleets of the World: Their Ships, Aircraft, and Systems. Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press. ISBN 9781591149552. 

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