German air-defense frigate ‘Hessen’ deploying to US for drills with US carrier strike group

German Navy’s F124 air-defense frigate FGS Hessen will be joining a US Navy aircraft carrier strike group off the US east coast for joint drills.

Hessen is scheduled to depart her homeport of Wilhelmshaven on January 15 and will be joined by a Norwegian frigate which will also be integrating into a carrier strike group.

The European ships will be training with Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman before they all deploy together to the Mediterranean some five months later.

The aim of the drills will be to hone interoperability between US Navy and the NATO ships. European frigates will work with US cruisers and destroyers over several months and are likely to join Harry S. Truman carrier strike group for the composite training unit exercise (COMPTUEX), a 3-week-long assessment which tests the ability of ships and crews to collaborate with other ships in the strike group based on real-world situations.

This is not the first time a German Navy unit is joining a US Navy carrier strike group for drills. Back in August 2013, “U 32” became the first German Type 212A submarine to sail to the US for six months of evolutions.

FGS Hessen is a Sachsen-class air defense frigate equipped with the SMART-L radar and SM-2 and ESSM missiles allowing them to provide anti-air defense in a radius of 400 kilometers.

In December 2016, the German defense ministry decided to modernize the frigates’ radar suites equipping them with exo-atmospheric, ballistic missile defense capabilities. The first improved frigate is expected to be delivered to the navy by 2021.