Insignia of the Naval Shipping Office

Naval Shipping Section

The Naval Shipping Section acts as the intermediary between the Fleet and the merchant navy. It is mainly staffed with personnel from civilian shipping.

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Freedom of navigation is in the fundamental strategic interest not only of Germany as a trading nation, but of all nations, because there can be no wealth without trade. The basis for this is free and secure maritime traffic.

Therefore, the protection of merchant vessels arguably is a warship's most important purpose. The Naval Shipping Section in Hamburg is the necessary link between civilian shipping and the German Navy. At national level, it is part of the German Navy Headquarters, at multinational level, it primarily works closely with Germany's NATO partners.

The Section covers a complex field of work: the cooperation of civilian shipping with the naval forces and the multifaceted interaction between the two – in peacetime as well as in conflict. In NATO, two major task areas exist for this purpose: on the one hand, there is Naval Cooperation and Guidance for Shipping, which offers advice and support to civilian and navy vessels from experts who know both sides. On the other hand, there is the Allied Worldwide Navigation Information System, which collects, coordinates and publishes all information related to navigational safety and security at sea.

Expertise from the reserve

To fulfill these tasks, the Naval Shipping Section relies heavily on the collaboration of reservists. For example, it conducts initial and follow-on training for pilots, marine engineers and other merchant ship officers to qualify them as so-called shipping control officers. These experts then support maneouvres and operations. They instruct boarding teams of the Sea Battalion and of the Navy Special Operations Forces Command and brief commanding officers of warships on the civilian shipping in their area of operations.

Based on this expertise, the Naval Shipping Section also advises the German Navy’s leaders in all matters related to global civilian shipping. This is one of the purposes for which the Section prepares the annual report 'Facts and Figures on Germany’s Maritime Dependence'.


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