German navy spent £120m repairing sailing ship while troops face shortages

German navy spent £120m repairing sailing ship while troops face shortages

The German navy has come under fire for spending millions on repairing a historic tall ship at a time when frontline units are facing serious equipment shortages.

A year after it emerged that none of Germany’s six submarines were sea worthy because of maintenance issues, questions are being asked over why the defence ministry spent €135m (£120m) attempting to repair a sailing ship.

A report by German government auditors leaked to Spiegel magazine at the weekend found the defence ministry and the armed forces had been guilty of “serious mismanagement”.

The Gorch Fock is a three-masted barque built in 1958. Officially Germany considers it a “training ship” and it is used to accustom recruits to life at sea, but in effect it is a naval talisman.

The ship has been undergoing repair for damage to the hull since November 2015. The intital budget was €9.6m (£8.5m) and the repairs were supposed to take 17 weeks.  More than three years later, the ship is still disassembled and there is serious doubt whether it will ever sail again.

The leaked auditors’ report accuses the defence ministry of “a lack of planning” and “failure adequately to prepare for the repair of the ship”.

“Before the start of the work, it was not clear whether the repair of the Gorch Fock was still financially viable,” it says.

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