Following a decision taken last week by the German Chief of Defence, General Eberhard Zorn, the procurement of two new Replenishment (Fleet) Oilers has been launched. The replacement of FGS RHÖN and FGS SPESSART will be available from 2024 and are supposed to stay in service well beyond the year 2050. Thus, the German Navy will meet its specific obligation to NATO in naval logistics: the provision of a total of five “Logistics Ships Small” from 2024. The two newly built (designated) Type 707 (German Navy’s classification) will complement the three combat support ships (Einsatzgruppenversorger) (Type 702) of the German Navy. Specialized as Fleet Oilers, they will deliver twice as much fuel than those: 15,000 tons. A considerable improvement in view of the two predecessors (Type 704) which both have a capacity of 11,500 tons.
In addition to the larger delivery, further advantages are pursued. With more than 20 knots, the Type 707 vessels can better keep pace with the ships to be refueled (e.g. frigates). Moreover, the two fleet oilers are to be built in accordance with the latest international standards, i.e. as double-hull vessels. The draught was limited to eight meters but increasing the length to 170 meters and the width to 24 meters, thus allowing them to use the same ports. Type 707 will offer 30 additional places for embarkation possibilities. Container storage spaces will be extended to 20 (instead of 2). In spite of automatization which would facilitate reducing manpower, the (civilian) crew will have to remain at 42 to cope with increased range of tasks (i.e. multiple station replenishment at sea).
The existing two 704-type oilers (RHÖN class) were built in the 1970s as commercial tankers and had been transferred into Navy Grey 42 years ago. As single-hull tanker, they do no longer comply with the licensing regulations and may only be used with derogations. In addition, technical problems are persisting, so they were not available for some periods. They are to be kept in operation until 2024.
A project group set up in January 2019 within the Federal Office of Bundeswehr Equipment, Information Technology and In-Service Support (BAAINBw) will now be enhanced by personnel from Navy Headquarters (Rostock) in order to swiftly organize the subsequent steps in the procurement process.
The key parameters for the bid as established by the German Armed Forces:
|Type 704||Type 707|
|Length||130 meters||170 meters|
|Width||19 meters||24 meters|
|Draught||8 meters||8 meters|
|Speed||16 knots||20 knots|
|Displacement||14.200 tons||>20.000 tons|
|Delivery Capacity||11.500 tons||15.000 tons|
Hans Uwe Mergener