Turkish Navy frigate TCG Oruç Reis (F-245) departing from Portsmouth Naval Base in the United Kingdom, on September 21, 2009. Off the bows in the distance is Fort Gilkicker, and beyond (to the left) the Isle of Wight.
The MEKO 200 is an extremely successful design which has gained substantial export orders for the German shipbuilding industry. In each case the hull and general outline of the ship is identical but customers can choose a variety of armament and machinery combinations which are installed on a modular basis.
Greece made a formal decision to order four MEKO 200 frigates in 1988, and the first of class (Hydra) was ordered in February 1989. Built by Blohm und Voss at Hamburg, it was completed in November 1992. Three further ships were laid down at Hellenic shipyards, Skaramanga, and the first of these commissioned in April 1996, and the last pair in 1998. The boxed data refer to these ships, which carry a single Sikorsky SH-70B-6 Aegean Hawk helicopter.
Prior to the Greek order, Portugal had also ordered three MEKO 200s in 1986, and these were all laid down in 1989. Built in Germany by Blohm und Voss and Howaldtswerke, they were completed in 1991 and are basically very similar to the Greek ships with the same hull, machinery and some of the weapons systems. The principal difference lies in the main armament where a French-built 3.9in (100mm) gun replaces the FMC 5in (127mm)/54, and the Sea Sparrows are fired from an octuple Mk. 29 launcher instead of a VLS. The hangar and flightdeck are optimised for two Super Lynx Mk. 95 helicopters.
The earliest customer for the MEKO 200, however, was Turkey, which ordered four Yavuz class ships in 1982, two of which were built in Germany and two in Turkey. They were very similar to the Greek ships described above but had a Mk. 29 octuple launcher for the Sea Sparrows on the hangar roof and also carried three Oerlikon-Contraves Sea Zenith 25mm CIWS. This is an unusual weapon system which can elevate through 90° in order to engage targets vertically above the ship. Each four-barrelled mounting can fire 3,400 rounds per minute. Turkey subsequently ordered four more MEKO 200s to a slightly modified design in 1990, and again two were built in Germany and two in Turkey. Known as the Barbaros class, they differed from their predecessors in that they were slightly larger and utilised the popular CODOG machinery installation instead of an all-diesel system. Some ships also incorporated a Mk. 41 VLS for Aspide medium-range SAMs.