Working Group: Naval Technology & Force Structure

As a naval maxim has it, there is no such thing as the ‘paradigm navy’, no template which states can model their naval forces after. However, this does not mean that developing comprehensive naval policy and building naval fleets does not underlie certain commonalities. In fact, navies are subject to general rules and trends ranging from developments in the field of technology and advancements in production processes, to fiscal restraints and economies of scale. On 26 June 2019, more than twenty experts gathered at the Herman-Ehlers-Akademie Kiel to take part in the Center for Maritime Strategy & Security (CMSS) workshop and provide their perspectives and share their views on these pertinent issues. CMSS organized this expert gathering as a traditional side event to the annual Kiel International Seapower Symposium (KISS).

After the words of welcome by Jeremy Stöhs (ISPK), Dr. Alix Valenti (Nice), then-Chief Editor of Naval Forces magazine, set out with a tour d’horizon of current trends in naval technology and its implications for naval forces across the board. Dr. Jerry Hendrix from the Telemus Group (Falls Church, Virginia, USA) continued and explained how United States, its Navy, and Marine Corps intend to maintain their technological edge vis-à-vis its competitors, offering a plethora of details on efforts to maintain maritime preponderance. Thea Larsen from the Royal Norwegian Naval Academy (Bergen) addressed some of the implications such rapid developments in several areas of technology can have on a small navy. The case of Norway also provided the backdrop for a lively debate on how naval forces, large and small, need to be fashioned to deal with challenges in both blue waters as well as the littorals.

Drawing from the previous discussions, the second session addressed the demands for future fleet architecture. The chair, Dr. Sarandis ‘Randy’ Papadopoulos of the Navy Department/U.S. Department of Defense (Washington D.C.), set the scene by drawing attention to the U.S. Navy’s shipbuilding plan, which reaches all the way to the end of the century. Niklas Granholm, representing the Swedish Defence Research Agency (Stockholm), laid out the challenges the small but highly sophisticated Swedish Navy faces in the Baltic Sea, and beyond and how it plans to prepare for the future. Commander Ivo Schneider from the German Navy Command in Rostock shed light on current German acquisition programs, future concepts, and the German Navy’s trajectory over the upcoming years. Finally, Dr. James H. Bergeron shared his views from the perspective of NATO’s Allied Maritime Command (Northwood), and in no uncertain terms, laid out current capabilities and shortfalls for the maritime alliance.

The day concluded with spirited discussions on the need for prudent planning and greater exchange of ideas and best practices. This process, so the consensus of the day concluded, should encompass the political, military, and industrial sectors but, importantly, also the academic community. The last element is one that events such as this held under the Kiel Seapower Series can facilitate.


The Institute for Security Policy at Kiel University (ISPK) provides research, analysis and commentary on conflicts and strategic issues. ISPK is committed to furthering the security policy discourse in Germany and abroad by way of focused, interdisciplinary, policy-oriented research.