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Corona on the high seas: the rules on a naval ship

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The frigate Bavaria is currently underway in Norway

© Bundeswehr / Frigate Bavaria
Image rights: Bundeswehr / Frigate Bavaria
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picture

The frigate Bavaria is currently underway in Norway

© Bundeswehr / Frigate Bavaria
Image rights: Bundeswehr / Frigate Bavaria
KeywordsBy
© Bundeswehr / Frigate Bavaria
Image rights: Bundeswehr / Frigate Bavaria

The frigate Bavaria is currently underway in Norway

After corona cases on the frigate Schleswig-Holstein, the admiral doctor of the German navy warned all soldiers to comply with the AHA rules. How is that supposed to work on a narrow ship? We asked the crew of the frigate Bayern.

Hand on heart: Adhering to the Corona rules is difficult for all of us. There is still enough space on land not to meet too closely. But how is that supposed to work on a ship? The frigate Bayern has been sailing in the far north off the coast of Norway for two weeks. A good 200 men and women are on board. The crew and the ship train on various missions. Clear rules and fixed processes are the order of the day on board. They are particularly important in times of Corona.

Commander of the frigate Bavaria: "Corona danger always in the back of your mind"

The crew of the frigate Bavaria tries to protect itself against the COVID-19 virus as much as possible. The warship is completely cleaned every day. Here on board - as usual in the military - there is a sharp tone. “If we say that a mask is worn here, then a mask is worn. Then nobody asks. “, Says frigate captain Tilo Kalski.

A doctor on board can carry out corona tests with a PCR device. "If someone coughs and sneezes here, they can be tested directly on board," says Kalski. In addition, all crew members have had their health checked beforehand, there are no risk patients. “But that's logical, otherwise they wouldn't even be allowed on board. Nevertheless, Corona is certainly a danger for us that we always have in the back of our minds. "

The biggest problem is keeping your distance in rooms and when eating

Even if the admiral doctor Stephan Apel has warned all members of the Navy to comply with all corona distance and hygiene rules, this is difficult to implement on board in reality. Keeping your distance in the narrow living and sleeping rooms with ten people is almost impossible. Some of the baths are used by 15 crew members. It is also difficult when working together on or below deck, especially since the masks fly around your ears in strong winds, as Commander Kalski reports.

It also becomes problematic with meals in the so-called messes of the ship, i.e. in the dining rooms. “We don't manage to divide people up so that we can keep enough distance. If we stretch the meals even further, we would only be occupied with eating the whole day because there are so many and the rooms are so small, ”says Commander Tilo Kalski, explaining the problem.

Lots of oncoming traffic in the narrow aisles

The narrow corridors on the frigate Bayern exacerbate the problem of keeping your distance. Especially after meetings or announcements with the whole crew, things build up there. “Actually, you can't even go through it in pairs, so everyone has to go through it individually. When there is oncoming traffic, it becomes difficult. It may well be that 70 people want to come through the corridor at once, ”reports Lieutenant Captain Ulrike Boelke-Dörr.

© Katrin Bohlmann
Image rights: Katrin Bohlmann

The frigate Bavaria on the move in Norway

Many crew members feel safer on board than in Bavaria

Captain Alexander Bauer from the Upper Palatinate has been on the road with the frigate Bavaria several times. He notices: The togetherness has changed compared to the trips before Corona. Wearing a mask and keeping your distance takes its toll. “There is a distance in there. Even with the technicians who come on board in Norway. But we still do our job, carry out our assignment, ”says the 27-year-old Bavarian.

His comrade Tobias Ott from Upper Franconia at Hof feels safe from Corona on board, even safer than at home in Bavaria when he reads the news from Tirschenreuth. “It's not that far from my home. It feels like the numbers are over the horizon. You even feel a little better here in the north than at home. "

Frigate is allowed to enter ports, but the crew is not allowed to go ashore

The crew of the frigate Bavaria with home port Wilhelmshaven has little contact with the outside world due to Corona. She may enter ports, but not go ashore. Frigate captain Tilo Kalski regrets that.

If this goes on for several weeks, it can become a psychological burden. “It's about mixing with the local population. Here it comes from Norway, as they have the significantly lower numbers of infections. For them, Germany is the risk area. That's why we are not allowed to go ashore here, ”said the 45-year-old.

There was already a corona case on the frigate Bavaria

Several positive corona cases were reported on the frigate Schleswig-Holstein at the end of January. The entire crew then had to be quarantined. The frigate Bavaria already had a corona case. That was last October. The comrade has come into domestic isolation. Corona on board - if those affected have to be quarantined or in domestic isolation - that has far-reaching consequences, says frigate captain Kalski. “The problem is: we're here to do an assignment. The moment five or ten people disembark, the ship can no longer do its job. This is not only annoying for us, but of course also for the military and ultimately also for the political leadership of this country. "

Precisely because the distance cannot always be maintained on board, even more discipline is needed on the frigate Bavaria in Corona times. The crew is expected to be on the North Sea for just under two weeks.

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