Tuesday, July 10, 2012

West German Marine Hauptgefreiter Matrosen Uniform

With the surrender of Nazi Germany in May 1945, the armed forces of the Wehrmacht were dismantled according to guidelines established by the victorious allied powers. The Kriegsmarine (Navy) of Nazi Germany had presented quite a foe on the high seas during the war. In June 1945, the allies effectively established the German Mine Sweeping Administration (GMSA) using former Kriegsmarine personnel and ships and operated under the supervision of the Allied navies, particularly the British Royal Navy; and they were tasked with minesweeping in the Baltic and North Seas. This incarnation of the Germany Navy would last until 1948. The reason for disbandment came under pressure from the Soviet Union who insisted that the GMSA was an allied attempt at rebuilding the defeated Kriegsmarine. The Royal Navy denied this extensively however in the end the GMSA was dissolved and replaced with a civilian organization. 

The Naval Ensign of the West German Bundesmarine

The Bundesmarine would come into existence in 1956, drawing into it's ranks many veterans of the former Kriegsmarine. This allowed the new German Navy to draw from an experienced pool of personnel upon its formation. Unlike the East German Volksmarine, the Bundesmarine was allowed to operate a force of Underseeboots or U-Boats (Submarines) as well as a number of destroyers. The first approved shipbuilding plan issued by the German Parliament provided in 1957 for the Marine to operate a number of warships essentially twelve destroyers, six escort boats, 40 torpedo boats, 24 coastal minesweepers, 30 fast minesweepers, twelve submarines , 36 landing craft, two mine ships, ten patrol boats, eleven tenders for small boats, a training ship, a sail training vessel, 65 aircraft, various auxiliary, test and training vehicles. This set up would be the standard framework remaining technically unchanged until reunification in 1990.

Ms. Lucy Rommel, widow of German Field Marshal Erwin Rommel smashes a bottle of champagne against the hull of the destroyer which bears her husbands name.

Three Bundesmarine destroyers named after three German officers of the Second World War. Shown here are the FGS Rommel, FGS Lutjens and FGS Molders.

Many of the West German Bundesmarine's ships would as in other Naval traditions worldwide, be named after persons who provided considerable contributions to the nation as well as cities and towns. The designation FGS or Federal German Ship is the given prefix to all vessels operating in the Bundesmarine. In 1970 one of the most prominent of the ships of the new West German Navy a destroyer, the FGS Rommel was commissioned in honor of the Field Marshal Erwin Rommel. Rommel was forced to commit suicide in 1944, by the Nazis for implications in his role in the July 20 attempted assassination of German dictator Adolf Hitler. The late Field Marshal Rommel's widow, Ms. Lucy Rommel was in attendance to christen the vessel as it left the dry dock.

Operating primarily out of Kiel and Bremerhaven in Northern Germany, the Bundesmarine was tasked with securing the Baltic Approaches and combating enemy shipping in the western Baltic in support of the army of amphibious operations. Its secondary duty was to provide security for West Germany's trade routes in the North Sea, Skagerrak, Kattegat and western Baltic Sea and the limited participation in securing the sea routes in the Atlantic. The Marine also performed peaceful duties representing the Federal Republic of Germany abroad, with the heading: "Ambassadors in Blue" and providing global training rides.

With the increased integration into the NATO alliance, the mission of the Marine became more and more adapted to the requirements of the Alliance, and supporting the army stepped further into the background. Constant participation in NATO maneuvers and in NATO aligned associations were the rule.

The uniform show here is of a Enlisted Matrose (Sailor) of the West German Navy. Unlike the other branches in the West German Bundeswehr, rank insignias were not worn on shoulderboards unless on the blue duty shirt; instead rank insignia was displayed on the sleeves. Shown here is the white summer uniform. It follows the line of many Navies around the world resembling middys worn by other Western Navies. 

The Tellermütze technically 'round hat' is in the standard visorless hat style worn by enlisted personnel in most modern Navies. It bears the distinctive difference from it's earlier predecesors in the cap tally style. Earlier incarnations of the German Navy, the Reichsflotte of Imperial Germany and the Kriegsmarine of Nazi Germany used Gothic style lettering on their cap bands. This was done away with to promote the Bundesmarine's own identity rather than being a successor organization to any previous Navy. The cap band remains gold lettering on a black band reading out 'BUNDESMARINE'. Like all German military hats, it retains the National insignia roundel.

Note the sleeve insignia of a Hauptgefreiter of the West German Bundesmarine. A sailor in the German Navy is known as a Matrose (Seaman) and in Naval respects, the Hauptgefreiter rather than being a Private or Airman in the Army or Air Force is classified as an 'Ordinary Seaman' in Western NATO code, the equivalent of a Petty Officer 3rd Class in the United States Navy. The anchor beneath the Hauptgefreiter stripes signifies a seagoing sailor. 

Here is a detailed picture of the standard Navy sailor's button depicting an anchor and rope adorning the cuff of the Sailor's Middy.

West German Sailors from the ship the FGS Rommel stand at attention during the christening ceremony for the new warship.

A shot of the destroyer FGS Rommel as she participates in NATO maneuvers in the North Sea

The FGS Rommel underway during NATO training exercises near Kiel

The Destroyer FGS Lutjens shown here was named after Admiral Günther Lütjens who was a German Naval commander during World War II. Lutjens was known as the commander of Operation Rheinübung, the mission led by the infamous battleship Bismarck. Lütjens was among those who lost their lives, when a 14-inch salvo fired by HMS King George V destroyed the bridge, together with the central artillery control tower, killing many of the Bismarck's senior officers.

The Lutjens fires the SM-1 surface to surface missile during Naval exercises near Kiel.

 The destroyer FGS Lutjens is seen here alongside the American aircraft carrier, the USS Forrestal during NATO training exercises in the North Atlantic. 

With the introduction of the new Type 122 Bremen-class Frigates, the requirement for the purchase of appropriate shipborne helicopters (Bordhubschrauber = BHS) became apparent to the Bundesmarine. Two of which were supposed to be operated from the ships. The Bundesmarine's decision fell in favor of the British Westland Lynx helicopter. The Lynx was built for the needs of the Royal Army (AH) and Royal Navy (HAS) respectively. The Helicopter Anti-Submarine, as was the full designation of the HAS, was chosen and modified to meet the German demands.

The first Sea Lynx helicopters bound for the German Navy made their first flight in May 1981 and were handed over to the Marineflieger at Yeovil. Together with two other helicopters it was used for training of crews and personnel. The remaining of the 19 Lynxes ordered were delivered between the end of 1981 and 1988. Operational use of the Nordholz based helicopters began with the landing of two Mk. 81s on the Frigate Bremen in July 1982. Since then a pair of two Lynxes have operated from the ships, needing a total crew of 18 seamen. The helicopters are specifically equipped to be operated from ships and therefore incorporate a very sophisticated avionics package, enabling their crews to operate under virtually all weather conditions in day or at night. In comparison to it's counterpart, the Westland Sea King, the Lynx has an automatic flight stabilization system. This allows the helicopter to hover automatically. In contrary Luftwaffe and Heeres Bell UH-1D helicopters must be hovered manually, thus fully relying on throttle, rudders and stick.  Changes were also made to the undercarriage. It was strengthened to withstand forces during the heavy landing on moving decks of surface ships at sea. The Lynx can land at angles up to 20° and is fitted with inflatable pontoons for emergency ditches.

Marineflieger Sea Lynx helicopters are used for a variety of missions. As in the case of all helicopters delivered to the Bundesmarine it performs the role of a search and rescue helicopter as well as performing Anti-Submarine Warfare and Naval Observation. Next to advanced avionics and communication systems the Sea Lynx operates a Bendix AN/AQS 18 dipping sonar system to detect hostile enemy submarines well beyond the reach of their own surface forces. The offensive weapons configuration typically consists of up to two torpedoes, two deep or shallow water torpedoes respectively. In addition to this, each helicopter is equipped with a rescue hoist to meet its assigned SAR requirements. Under theses circumstances a total of 7 persons can be carried next to the three man crew or 1360 kg of cargo.

Westland Lynx Lynx Mk.88 

Role: Multi-Purpose Shipborne Military Helicopter
Country of Origin: United Kingdom
Manufacturer: Westland Helicopters
First flight:  March 1971
Introduction: 1981 (Marineflieger Service)

General Characteristics:
Crew: 2 or 3 
Capacity: 10 Troops
Payload Capacity: 737 kg
Length: 15.241 m (50 ft)
Rotor diameter: 12.80 m (42 ft)
Height: 3.734 m for mk7; 3.785 m for mk9 (12.25 ft for mk7; 12.41 ft for mk9)
Disc area: 128.71 m² (1,385 ft²)
Empty weight: 3,291 kg (7,255 lb)
Max. takeoff weight: 5,330 kg (11,750 lb)
Powerplant: 2 × Rolls-Royce Gem turboshaft, 835 kW (1,120 shp) each
Maximum speed: 324 km/h (201 mph)
Range: 528 km (328 miles) with standard tanks

2 x torpedoes or 4x Sea Skua missiles or 2 x depth charges.

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