Germany, Poland initiate submarine cooperation

German and Polish Navy chiefs have set up a joint “Submarine Operating Authority” bringing the two countries’ navies closer together and transcending traditional strategic reservations often linked to submarine missions.

As the agreement outlines, the newly set up ‘task group’ will be part of the German “Maritime Operations Centre” (MOC) and will control both German and Polish Navy submarines. Command over submarines, however, will still be retained by the respective countries.

Through the SubOpAuth, as the task group name is abbreviated to, two Polish Navy officers will be permanently stationed in the German MOC which is located in Glücksburg, Germany. One of the greatest benefits the Polish Navy will have from this cooperation is that it will be able to connect its submarines to the German guidance systems i.e. the ‘Submarine Broadcast Control Authority’.

“It really is a special move to transfer control of such an important national, strategic asset to mutual hands,” Rear Admiral Andreas Krause, Inspector of the German Navy, explained.

The latest cooperation agreement goes back to 1999 when the two countries signed documents for basic military cooperation which has since been broadened on a number of occasions. The most recent agreement was signed May 27, 2013 when the two ministries of defense broadened their maritime collaboration.

While at a different technical footing, German and Polish submarine fleets are similar in size. The German Navy operates six Type 212A air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines while the Polish Navy has five submarines – one from the former Soviet Kilo-class and four ex-Norwegian submarines. The ‘Koben’-class submarines that were operated by the Norwegian Navy were originally built at the German shipyard Nordseewerken in the 1960’s and transferred to Poland in 2002 and 2003.