Military staff criticize investigations into German naval scandal | Germany| News and in-depth reporting from Berlin and beyond | DW | 09.02.2011
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Military staff criticize investigations into German naval scandal

There's been widespread criticism of delays in the investigation of the death of a trainee naval officer on the training ship Gorch Fock. The victim's mother says the information which has emerged so far is inconsistent.

The Gorch Fock in stormy weather

The Gorch Fock is sailing home to an uncertain future

The German naval training ship Gorch Fock is currently making its slow way back to Germany from Argentina. It was there that Sarah S., a 25-year-old trainee officer, died when she fell from the rigging of the three-masted sailing ship in November 2010.

It's expected back in April, but that's not fast enough for the critics.

"The crew of the Gorch Fock should disembark as soon as possible and be flown to Germany," the Social Democrat defense spokesman Rainer Arnold told the Bild newspaper. "It's not acceptable that the investigation should take any longer."

The Army Association is also critical. Its head, Ulrich Kirsch, said he had the impression that information was being released "slice by slice." He said this was "unbearable" for those involved.


Sarah S.

The circumstances of Sarah S.'s death are still mysterious.

The latest slice of information to emerge was that S. was significantly overweight and should not have been in service on board. The autopsy reported that, at 1.58 meters (5ft. 2in) tall, Sarah S. weighed 83 kilos (183 pounds).

Her mother, Angelika S., who had seen her daughter a few days before the accident, told Bild, "My daughter never weighed that much. When she left Germany, she weighed certainly no more than 60 kilos."

She said she didn't believe that her daughter had simply fallen from the rigging during an exercise.

On Monday, it emerged that the officer training the cadets had only arrived two days earlier and had had no instruction in how to deal with cadets who showed insecurity during the exercises.

Keep it or scrap it?

Guttenberg surrounded by microphones

Guttenberg has been criticized for summarily dismissing the captain of the Gorch Fock

Defense Minister Karl-Theodor zu Guttenberg told the press during a visit to India that "it would be good if it could still be used for training," even if the training procedures needed to be changed.

But there are increasing calls in the media for the ship to be retired, especially in the light of the defense minister's announcement that he cannot meet the government target for cuts in his department. The Leipziger Volkszeitung newspaper reported information from sources in the military that the ship was no longer among the facilities which would be protected in the case of cuts.

Author: Michael Lawton (dapd, dpa, AFP)
Editor: Rob Turner

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