Germany retires last fast attack craft

Two Gepard-class boats sail in formation. Photo: German Navy
Two Gepard-class boats sail in formation. Photo: German Navy

The German Navy decommissioned the last of its fast attack craft during a ceremony on Wednesday at the Warnemünde Navy Base in Rostock.

With the decommissioning of the last four Gepard-class fast attack craft and therefore the last fast attack squadron, the navy is closing a chapter of its history that started in 1956 with the delivery of first boats from the Royal Navy.

The ceremony was attended by both military and public officials as well as the current Inspector of the Navy, Vice-Admiral Andreas Krause. The boats were formally removed from the service by Rear Admiral Jan C. Kaack, 1st Flotilla commander.

Built during and for the Cold War era, the boats were predominantly used in the littoral regions of the Baltic Sea in the beginning. The changing operational demands and deployments of the German Navy eventually saw the fast attack craft switch from cold Baltic to warmer waters of Africa.

In the past eleven years, Gepards showed their prowess with deployments to UNIFIL and operation Enduring Freedom. According to the German Navy, the boats spent 2,300 days deployed to the United Nations Interim Force in Lebanon (UNIFIL).

The German Navy received the first fast attack craft from the Royal Navy on May 29, 1956. The delivered boats were the previously seized S1 and S3 that were to be known as Silbermöwe (Seagull) class in the newly formed German Navy. After the Silbermöwe, Germany commissioned 30 Jaguar-class and 10 Zobel (Sable) class boats which were replaced by 20 Tiger-class vessels. Tiger-class in turn were replaced the Albatros and later Gepard-class fast attack craft.

Germany had a total of eight Gepard-class attack craft in service. Four vessels were decommissioned between 2012 and 2015 with Hermelin, Zobel, Frettchen and Hyäne following suit this year.