The German Navy’s organization
Germany’s naval forces are subdivided into three large formations as well as several commands and institutions for their support and training of personnel.
The naval forces at a glance
The German Navy has a special feature compared to the German Army and the Lufwaffe: its headquarters, called Navy Command, combines two command levels: corps and divisional. Both the fleet and support forces are subordinated directly to it: ships and submarines, aircraft, naval infantry and naval special forces together form the actual naval forces. The support forces take care of the Navy’s equipment, but also of its personnel development and health.
The naval schools are also directly subordinate to Navy Command. Every German sailor, marine or naval pilot has visited at least one of them during his or her career.
The Navy also has two special institutions: through a Centre of Excellence, the German Navy supports NATO with its expertise and experience in operations in coastal waters. And the Navy Shipping Office is a liaison office to global civil shipping.
Chief of Navy
Vice admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach
Germany’s chief of navy is called “Inspekteur der Marine”, literally Inspector of the Navy. He leads the entire naval force and represents it externally. He is responsible for the personnel and material readiness of the Navy; he advises the Inspector General of the Bundeswehr on all naval and maritime matters. Within the Federal Ministry of Defence and in multinational military committees, he represents the maritime perspective of the Bundeswehr.
Vice admiral Rainer Brinkmann
The German vice chief of navy is the so-called Deputy Inspector of the Navy and Commander of the Fleet and Support Forces. He stands in for the Inspector of the Navy in all matters. As Fleet Commander, or Commander-in-Chief, German Fleet as NATO calls his position, he acts within in the naval forces.
He coordinates with the command staffs of other Bundeswehr branches in so-called commanders’ meetings; he decides on the investigation reports of the commissioner for naval accident investigations. He is also chief commissioner for naval reservists’ affairs and of the Navy’s controlling department. Last but not least: he awards commanding officer’s commissions or denies them.