Logistics: Germans Run Out Of Fuel Off Somalia


September 25, 2011: A trade union dispute in Germany has led to reduced German participation in the anti-piracy patrol off Somalia. The problem arose when the union that represented the civilian sailors who manned the navy's four tankers, refused to renew a deal while allowed tanker sailors to work 65 hours a week while off the Somali coast. This amount of hours was needed to run the tankers while on the high seas, and the tanker sailors received extra paid leave, when they returned home, for the hours above the 48 a week their basic contract calls for.

Without the 65 hour week, the tankers cannot operate off Somalia, so German warships there have to pull into a port to refuel, which reduces their time at sea by up to 30 percent (depending on how much time they spend moving at high speed in the pursuit of pirates.) The navy continues to negotiate with the union, but does not have much room to maneuver, as budgets are being cut. Refueling at sea requires specially trained tanker crews, and these tankers are always in short supply. German warships can depend on navy tankers from other countries in an emergency, but not for regular refueling.




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