The American defence website The War Zone reports in a recent article that the construction of the new German class of warships of the F126 programme has recently started. The class is described by the builder as "the largest shipbuilding program in the history of the German navy".
These vessels will be the largest surface vessels to join the German navy since World War II, however it remains unknown whether Berlin will purchase all 6 units desired by its navy or limit itself to the 4 units dictated by the original contract.
It was announced this week that construction of the new F126 warships has begun, with a launch ceremony taking place at the Peene shipyard in Wolgast, Germany, marking the official start of the construction phase of the program.
The tender to build the first four F126 frigates was won by Danish shipbuilder Damen Naval in June 2020, which along with Blohm+Voss and Thales has been awarded the contract for the programme.
Under the complex shipbuilding programme, the ships will be produced entirely in Germany, at three different shipyards: in Wolgast, Kiel and Hamburg. The first stages of construction will take place in Wolgast, followed by the assembly of the ship's components in Kiel and finally in Hamburg, where the various ship systems will be installed and final testing will take place. The first delivery of the F126 frigate to the German Navy is expected to take place in 2028.
"The project is recognised worldwide as one of the most interesting frigate building projects," said Arnout Damen, Managing Director of Damen Shipyards Group.
What will be the imposing F126 ships?
Although officially considered frigates by the Germans, the warships in the F126 program will be considerably larger than the typical 21st century frigates. Each will be 166 meters long and have a displacement of up to 11 thousand tons. Thus, their dimensions are more comparable to the famous Arleigh Burke-class destroyers of the US Navy than to most current frigate classes.
The ships are expected to replace the German Navy's current F123 Brandenburg class of frigates. Four such vessels have been in service since the mid-1950s.
The F126 frigate is a large and expensive warship, which will be able to operate in tropical and polar regions. The vessel will be able to undertake various missions, depending on the needs of the German Navy, such as anti-submarine warfare missions.
The ship is known as Mehrzweckkampfschiff (MKS 180, or Multi-Purpose Combat Ship 180) in the German Navy.