( dpa ) - The German Navy commissioned Wednesday the corvette Braunschweig, the first vessel of a new class.
Braunschweig, which will be based in the Baltic port of Warnemuende, will arrive in the Mediterranean next week to take part in the Mare Aperto naval exercise off the coast of Sicily, Italy.
The five Type K 130 vessels, each 89 metres long, are designed to serve in coastal waters anywhere in the world and can operate 21 days at a stretch without refuelling or resupplying.
Their weapons systems are designed for use in wartime against surface vessels or small-scale land targets such as radar stations.
The corvettes are also suited for stealthy eavesdropping, since they are hard to see with radar or infrared sensors and themselves have reconnaissance systems aboard suited for coastal work.
In peacetime, Germany is to deploy the corvettes for general marine surveillance.
After the Sicily exercise, Braunschweig is to journey through the Suez Canal into the Red Sea to check how its technical systems function in subtropical seas.
About a dozen pacifists protested during the commissioning ceremony in Rostock, describing the corvette as an offensive weapon.