Last week some 200 German marines from the Seebataillon were on maneuvers for a major non-combatant evacuation exercise, Schneller Adler, or Swift Eagle. Together with the Dutch Corps Mariniers, Feldjäger, and an electronic warfare specialist team, they operated from aboard the Dutch Navy dock landing ship Rotterdam (L800). At the same time, the German and Dutch armies trained on land, supported by the Luftwaffe.
In all, a total of around 2,000 soldiers and other participants took part in the regular exercise this year.
Of note to observers on this side of the pond is a familiar old girl in the form of SH-3 Sea Kings on deck and still in front line service.
The German Navy’s Marinefliegerkommando unoffically traces it origins to the old Kaiserliche Marine’s Zeppelins and rascals like Kapitän Gunther Plüschow. More officially, they date to 1956 when West Germany’s Bundesmarine Federal Navy was founded. During the Cold War, the Marineflieger consisted of not only P-3 Orions and two whole wings of anti-ship capable Tornado strike aircraft, but a sea-going force of Sea Lynx and Sea Kings.
Built on license from Sikorsky by Westland in the UK, Germany ordered 22 Mk 41 Sea Kings with an enlarged cabin arrangement similar to the Westland HC4 Commando in 1969 to replace Grumman HU-16 Albatross flying boats in a SAR/transport role. Lacking ASW gear or the capability to drop torpedos, they were later fitted with a Ferranti Seaspray radar in a nose radome (which they still have) to aid them in carrying up to four British Sea Skua AShMs (which have since been retired).
These days, 19 German Kings are left, flying operationally for Marinefliegergeschwader 5 out of Nordholz. Showing their age, they are set to be replaced by 18 NHI NH90 Sea Lions within the coming decade.
Besides the Germans, Egypt, India, Norway, and Pakistan still fly the old bird, an aircraft that ended production in 1995.
Speaking of which, India just test-fired a new helicopter-launched anti-ship missile from a Sea King this week. The missile is known as the “Naval Anti-Ship Missile-Short Range” or NASM-SR.