Germany sending a warship to the South China Sea for the first time in almost two decades. FGS Bayern departed from the naval base in Wilhelmshaven on Aug 2, northwestern Germany, with more than 200 soldiers on board.
As part of the tour, the vessel will dock in the ports of Germany’s allied partners. The stops planned so far in order are Djibouti, Karachi, Diego Garcia, Perth, Guam, Tokyo, Incheon, Shanghai, Ho Chi Minh City, Singapore, Colombo, Mumbai, Djibouti.
During its deployment, the German navy personnel on board will take on a wide range of different tasks. It will support NATO’s Operation Sea Guardian to strengthen maritime security in the Mediterranean and the EU’s Operation Atalanta to combat piracy off the Horn of Africa.
They will also be responsible for maritime monitoring of the sanctions against North Korea. The aim of these sanctions is to induce North Korea to abandon its nuclear and missile program. The UN Security Council tightened the sanctions further in 2017, expanding them to cover shipments of oil and refined petroleum products. The Bayern will carry out sea surveillance to prevent these sanctions from being circumvented by cargo transfers on the high seas. In addition, it will conduct joint exercises with partners in the Indo-Pacific.
The frigate will also cross the South China Sea. Germany regularly underlines the significance of the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (UNCLOS) as a comprehensive, universally recognized legal framework, particularly its provisions on freedom of navigation in international waters, as well as the obligatory mechanisms for the settlement of disputes.
German Foreign Minister Heiko Maas said the Indo-Pacific region was one part of the world where the international order of the future would be decided and as such, it was important that Germany have a presence in it.
“We aim to be involved and to take responsibility for maintaining the rule-based international order,” Maas said.
German Defense Minister Annegret Kramp-Karrenbauer said: “The message is clear: we are standing up for our values and interests together with our partners and allies.”
“For our partners in the Indo-Pacific, it is a reality that sea routes are no longer open and secure, and that claims to territory are being applied by the law of might is right,” she added.
In the Indo-Pacific region, “important decisions on peace, security and prosperity will be made,” Kramp-Karrenbauer said.
Bayern is a Brandenburg-class frigate of the German Navy. She was laid in 1993 at the yards of Nordseewerke, Emden and launched in June 1994. She was christened by Karin Stoiber, the wife of the then Minister-President of Bavaria Edmund Stoiber.
After undergoing trials she was commissioned on 15 June 1996, and assigned to 6. Fregattengeschwader. After the naval structure was reorganised, Bayern was assigned to 2. Fregattengeschwader, based at Wilhelmshaven.
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