Germany & MKS 180: the key issue of infrastructures

Recently, the President of the Land of Schleswig-Holstein, Mr. Daniel Günther (CDU) and his minister for economy, Mr. Bernd Buchholz (FDP) visited the two shipyards in tough competition for the MKS 180: Blohm+Voss (Lürssen) and German Naval Yards-Kiel.

If nothing interesting pertaining to the race has been said during these visits, Defencechronicles has noticed that the key-issue of infrastructures has been evoked for the first time. Mr Günther has spoken about the tremendous importance of naval infrastructures for the national security : ‘The importance of the existing shipyard infrastructure, especially on the Baltic Sea coast, for the security, is too underestimated in the political debate’ (‘Die sicherheitspolitische Relevanz der bestehenden Werftinfrastruktur gerade an der Ostseeküste wird in der politischen Debatte zu wenig erörtert’).


MKS 180 & infrastructures : what the Yards say…


This remark is interesting, given the publicity made by the two rival yards in this domain:


  • In Hamburg-Steinwerder, ten millions of euros have been injected by the Lürssen family in the yards during the last two years: cleaning, new machines, creation of a new 700 square meter-workshop for 30 industry-learners[1]; this was absolutely necessary given the fact that the previous owner, the British fund Star Capital, made few investments in the yards during its 5-year ownership;


  • In Kiel, Mr. Safa, the industry mogul and owner of German Naval Yards (Kiel, Rendsburg and Lidenau), has unveiled an ambitious plan of investments were the MKS 180 be built in Kiel: a new assembly hall in drydock n°8, new offices for the design and production, which will complete an impressive and unique infrastructure already in use: the 900t-Ganty crane, the 426m drydock. So far, according to GNY financial report, €180 million have been invested in all the sites of the group.


MKS 180 & infrastructures: what the reality is…


These details given by the two industrialists should be put in parallel with more illustrative other data such as the docks suitable for shipbuilding, the shipbuilding sheds (covered), the sandblasting & coating sheds, the crane capacities and the outfitting piers, to give a better idea of their respective capabilities. All infrastructures needed for any big naval program such as the design & building of the MKS 180.


Based on open data (those publicly described by the yards)[2], Defencechronicles has tried to sum-up the issue of infrastructures:


The shipbuilding capability


In Hamburg (see at the left, the yellow sheds) at B+V, only the sheds n°9 and 10 (Schiffbauhallen) are capable of building sections of up to 250t (« Sektionen mit einem Gesamtgewicht von bis zu 250 t werden verschweißt und die Vorausrüstung der Sektionen »). 

In Wolgast (ex-P+S Werften) and Bremen at Lürssenwerft, the yard has 9 sheds (3 in Wolgast and 6 in Bremen), ranging from 65X65m (for the smallest) to 160X29m (for the biggest).


In Kiel at GNY, the shipbuilding halls n°7 (165X42m) and 8 (185X41m) are bigger and all suitable for sections up to 900t.

‘The roofs of the halls can be opened by a rail system in order to allow a precise use of the 900 t portal crane. In the shipbuilding halls,  sections, blocks and large-sized blocks are built on a working area of 5400 m² in each hall.


The docks for shipbuilding


 Another important asset is the dock suitable for shipbuilding.

At B+V (see at the right), in Hamburg, there is no suitable dock for a complete assembly under cover, except the floating dock n°12 (143X25m) and dock n°5 (160X28m).


In Kiel (see at the left), Defencechronicles has found the mega dry dock of 426X90m  and the covered dry dock .


The crane capability


Where B+V has only mobile cranes, GNY-K has a powerful portal which can reach all the relevant halls and docks of the yard.




In conclusion, 


These data show how impressive the Naval infrastructures in this area are and confirm the statement of Mr. Günther.

But they also illustrate that German Naval Yards, has inherited from TKMS a very powerful industrial base, well above from its peer-competitors in Germany : dry docks, covered sheds, coating hangars, lifting capacity are not only at the cutting-edge of the Naval shipbuilding technologies but also the largest of Germany for building Navy ships.

At the end of the competition, and beyond the tradition, the design and the experience,  it is about building highly-complex heavy frigates. After the K130 disaster, key-decision makers in Berlin, Rostock and Koblenz should also take the issue of infrastructures seriously.


[1] Hamburger Abdendblatt online, 1st June, 2018: ‘Ich hätte Blohm + Voss gerne früher gekauft’.

[2] and and

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