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High Tension on the Red Sea: German Frigate Faces Houthi Threat

German frigate Hessen sailors were on watch 12 hours a day in the Red Sea with only seconds to react to threats in the 'worst case scenario'

High Tension on the Red Sea: German Frigate Faces Houthi Threat

For nearly two months, the German frigate Hessen patrolled the volatile waters of the Red Sea, facing a constant and dangerous threat from Houthi rebels in Yemen. This deployment, as part of the European Union’s Operation Aspides, placed the 240-member crew on a gruelling schedule of 12-hour shifts, with only seconds to react in a “worst-case scenario.”

The Hessen’s mission was critical: protecting commercial ships from Houthi attacks. These rebels, locked in a long-running civil war in Yemen, have become notorious for launching missile and drone strikes against vessels in the Red Sea, a vital shipping lane. The German military described the situation as a “permanent war march” for the crew, highlighting the ever-present tension and potential for deadly encounters.

The demanding schedule reflected the gravity of the situation. Sailors worked in six-hour shifts, constantly vigilant and prepared to respond to threats. This high state of alert stemmed from the “three-dimensional threat” posed by the Houthis. Missiles, drones, and potentially even fast-attack boats could come from any direction, leaving the crew with a narrow window of just ten seconds to activate their defensive measures.

The deployment wasn’t just about physical readiness. The psychological strain of constant vigilance and the knowledge of potential danger must have been immense. Imagine being on guard for six hours straight, knowing a single mistake or missed cue could have devastating consequences. The close quarters aboard a frigate, with limited personal space, likely added another layer of stress to the situation.

The Hessen’s successful completion of its mission highlights the professionalism and dedication of the German Navy. Their presence in the Red Sea served as a deterrent to Houthi attacks and ensured safe passage for commercial vessels. However, their experience also sheds light on the complex security challenges facing the region. The ongoing conflict in Yemen continues to destabilize the Red Sea, posing a constant threat to international shipping and the safety of sailors.

During its time in the Red Sea, the sailors on board the Hessen had demanding schedules, with 12-hour shifts and a constant readiness to react to potential threats. In the most critical situations, they had only seconds to respond to the dangerous situations posed by Houthi attacks.

The Hessen, belonging to the Sachsen-class frigates, exited the Red Sea and navigated through the Suez Canal on Saturday, concluding its nearly 60-day mission in the Middle Eastern waters. The ship was deployed as part of the European Union’s Operation Aspides security mission, aimed at safeguarding commercial vessels from missile and drone attacks by Houthi rebels off the coast of Yemen.

With about 240 crew members on board, the Hessen maintained a rigorous operational tempo, described by the German military as “a permanent war march.” Sailors were on watch for six hours straight, followed by six hours of rest, and then another six-hour watch cycle.

The German military highlighted that this high state of readiness was necessary due to the constant threat posed by the Houthis. In the event of a worst-case scenario, the ship and its crew would have had only about ten seconds to activate their defensive weapons.

This deployment serves as a reminder of the sacrifices made by those who serve in the military. Long hours, demanding conditions, and the ever-present risk of danger are all part of the job. The crew of the Hessen deserves our recognition for their bravery and commitment to protecting vital sea lanes.

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