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The Type 404 Elbe Class supply tenders are in service with the German Navy. A total of six ships were built by Bremer Vulkan, Kröger Werft and Flensburger Schiffbau-Gesellschaft shipyards.
The replenishment ships support the fast attack craft (FAC), submarine, minesweeper and corvette squadrons of the German Navy.
The first ship in class, Elbe (A511), was launched in June 1992. It was commissioned in January 1993. Mosel (A512) was launched in April 1993 and commissioned in July 1993; Rhein (A513) was launched in March 1993 and commissioned in September 1993; Werra (A514) was launched in June 1993 and commissioned in December 1993; Main (A515) was launched in June 1993 and commissioned in June 1994. The last ship in the class, Donau (A516), was launched in March 1994 and commissioned in November 1994. All the vessels were named after German rivers.
Three of the tenders are based at Keel and two are based at Warnemünde, while one ship operates from Eckernförde.
Elbe Class design
Elbe class tenders are designed to accept modifications and hence easily configurable to serve various types of squadrons. One of the six ships, the Main, was modified to support the German submarines and is referred to as a separate sub-class due to this major modification.
The ships are equipped with modern communication systems to operate as a squadron flagship.
Elbe Class has an overall length of 100.6m, a width of 15.4m and a draft of 4.05m. The full load displacement of the ship is 3,586t. Each ship can complement a crew of 50 ordinary soldiers, 35 support members (system support group) and 20 staff personnel.
Cargo capacity capabilities of the German ships
Elbe Class tenders supply fuel, fresh water, food, ammunition and spare parts for corvettes and boat squadrons. This will significantly increase the endurance of warships operating in the squadron.
The tenders are also equipped with a medical station and a repair workshop to assist the minor repairs of assigned ships.
Elbe Class can carry 700m³ of diesel fuel, 60m³ of aviation (helicopter) fuel, 280m³ of fresh water, 160t of ammunition and 40t of supplies.
The tenders can also manage waste disposal for ships at sea. The waste water treatment plant onboard can treat the water disposed from the assigned ships. The onboard waste disposal facilities can handle 5t of solid waste, 180m³ of waste water and 32m³ of waste oil. The vessels can accommodate 24 standard 6.2m containers.
The Elbe class tenders assigned to FAC squadrons feature SUG repair and support shops specialised for these boats. The SUG team includes about 30 personnel from all ranks.
The workshop equipment is carried on the deck in a set of 13 standard containers. The SUG ensures high operational capability of the boat squadron by delivering quick repair and maintenance work at sea.
The ship is also equipped with a forward supply specialist unit to conduct maintenance on engines and armaments at sea.
Armament of the Elbe vessels
Elbe Class is armed with two Fliegerfaust 2 (Stinger) man portable infrared homing surface-to-air missile (SAM) systems. FIM-92 Stinger can be used against aircraft flying at a range of up to 4,800m and altitudes of 180m to 3,800m.
It can carry a 1kg warhead. The two Rheinmetall Rh202 20mm auto-cannons were replaced with two MLG-27 27mm remote controlled auto-cannons. The MLG-27 can fire at a rate of 1,000 to 1,700 rounds a minute.
Aircraft carrying capabilities of the supply tender ships
The ship has an aft helicopter deck to support the operations of a Sea King or a large sized helicopter. No hangar facility is available for the embarked helicopter.
Propulsion and engine power
Elbe Class is powered by a Deutz MWM SBV diesel engine developing a power output of 2,452kW. The propulsion system provides a maximum speed of 15kt and a range of about 2,500nm. The ship has an endurance of 30 days.
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