British Army Corps of Royal Engineers 75 Engineer Regt, 23 and 412 Troop, Germany (Crown Copyright, 2017)

British Army Amphibious Engineers Will Stay in Germany

British Army Announces Commitment to M3 River-Crossing Capability in Germany

The British Army has announced that some units will stay in Germany after the planned drawdown is completed at the end of 2019. These will include elements of the Corps of Royal Engineers already based in Germany. In addition, the current training facilities at Sennelager will be kept operational.

In a statement on the British Army website, it was stated that “the British Army is committed to supporting critical NATO assets in Germany, including a combined river crossing capability and facilities to allow for joint training”.

British Army Corps of Royal Engineers, 75 ER, 23 Amph Eng Tp, 412 Amph Eng Tp, with M3 rig (Crown Copyright, 2017)

British Army Corps of Royal Engineers, 75 ER, 23 Amph Eng Tp, 412 Amph Eng Tp, with M3 rig (Crown Copyright, 2017)

The British Army statement continued:

There is a requirement to enhance support to NATO and to strengthen ties with our European allies. We are committing to a combined river crossing capability with the German Army (Bundeswehr), known as the M3 wide-wet gap crossing capability, and associated shared facilities in Minden.

The British Army’s M3 wide-wet gap crossing capability is delivered by 23 Amphibious Engineer Troop and 412 Amphibious Engineer Troop, 75 Engineer Regiment. With the disbanding of 28 Engineer Regiment in 2014, 23 and 412 Troop became part of 75 Engineer Regiment and both units moved from Hameln to Minden to share facilities with their Bundeswehr counterpart, Panzerpionierbataillon 130, at Herzog von Braunschweig Kaserne.

The M3 Amphibious Rig

The M3 Amphibious Rig is a self-propelled amphibious bridging vehicle that is used for the passage of tanks and other vehicles across water obstacles. The vehicle is operated by both UK and German armed forces.

The M3 is self-deployable by road, operating as a 4×4 wheeled vehicle with a maximum road speed of 50 mph. It is driven into the water for amphibious operation, for which it deploys two large aluminium pontoons, unfolding them along the length of its hull. In water, the M3 is propelled and steered by 2 fully traversable pump jets at speeds of up to 9 mph.

The M3 amphibious rig can be driven into a river and used as a ferry or, when a number are joined together from bank to bank, as a bridge, capable of taking vehicles as heavy as the Challenger 2 main battle tank.

The M3 has a number of advantages over similar vehicles. It can deploy pontoons on the move, in or out of water. It needs no on-site preparation to enter the water. It can be controlled from inside the cab when ‘swimming’. Its control functions have been automated allowing the crew to be reduced to three.

A single two-bay M3 can carry a Class 70 tracked vehicle, where two M2s would have been required for this task with additional buoyancy bags. Eight M3 units and 24 soldiers can build a 100 m bridge in 30 minutes compared with 12 M2s, 48 soldiers and a construction time of 45 minutes.

Sennelager Training Area

The British Army also announced that: “We will also use the Training Area at Sennelager and supporting infrastructure in Germany to enable live fire training by UK and NATO forces.”

The British Army's Training Area at Sennelager

The British Army’s Training Area at Sennelager.

The Sennelager Training Area (or Truppenübungsplatz Senne as it is known in German) is a military training area currently under the control of British Forces Germany but is owned by German Government which discharges its responsibility through the Institute for Federal Real Estate. It covers an area of 116 square kilometres (45 sq mi).

Featured Image: Pictured is a German BOXER ambulance vehicle crossing a temporary bridge formed by several UK and German M3 Amphibious Rigs in Minden, during a joint UK/German Bridging Operation. The M3 (operated by a Corps of Royal Engineer crew) sequence shows the M3’s aluminium pontoons deploying prior to entering the water. Photograph  by Stuart A. Hill (Crown Copyright, 2017).