Next week I will continue my post on the Mystery of U-234 but I will take a break and discuss other aspects of the German Navy.
Since its inception in 1872 as the Imperial Navy, the German Navy has been in the shadows of the British Royal Navy. From the beginning of their navy to the surrender of Germany in 1945, the German Navy has regarded the Royal Navy as their enemy while being deeply envious of them. Much of the German Navy was patterned on the Royal Navy. Even today, German sailors still wear the “Nelson collar” – the cornflower blue collar with three white stripes – first worn by British sailors and named for British Admiral Lord Nelson, hero of the Battle of Trafalgar.
If you have ever been to Trafalgar Square in London, the statue on the top of “Nelson’s Column”, is, of course, Lord Nelson, killed at the moment of his greatest triumph, the Battle of Trafalgar, in which the heavily outnumbered British fleet shattered the combined fleets of France and Spain and established British naval supremacy for more than a century to come. The battle took place on 21 October 1805.
The modern German Navy or Deutsche Marine:
Today the German Navy numbers approximately 25,000 men and women with fifty surface warships and ten U-Boats in commission. By contrast, the U.S. Navy numbers approximately 340,000 men and women and operates almost three hundred warships and almost four thousand aircraft.
German Navy ships never deploy on their own for combat missions but always operate within a NATO or UN mandate. Today, elements of the German fleet patrol off Somalia in Operation Atlanta, the NATO mission to combat piracy in that area, as well as off Lebanon in the U.N. mandated Operation Unifil, which prevents terrorists from putting to sea in Lebanon to attack Israel. Here is a video from Youtube showing the German Navy in action.
The German Navy is highly professional and well trained but has suffered from a number of public embarrassments in recent years caused by various German naval vessels colliding with one another. The most spectacular is this collision (seen in this video from Youtube) between two high speed S-Boots (swift boats). The kommandant of the offending S-Boot was relieved of command the next day according to my sources in the German Navy.
[Image of Trafalgar Square courtesy of London Pictures.]