Germany, Eckernförde—No more U-boats for the German Navy.

Following an accident off the coast of Norway, the Deutsche Marine won’t have an operational submarine at least until late 2018.

The latest casualty, U-35, collided with a rock formation and damaged its propellers.  The vessel was practising drills before an international exercise scheduled to take place in December.  A formal investigation will be launched to judge responsibility.

“This is obviously not a good situation,” said a German Defence Ministry spokesman.

The Deutsche Marine has six Type 212 submarines in its arsenal; two more will join the fleet by 2030.  The Type 212 is a conventional diesel propelled sub noted for its stealth.  It also holds the record for underwater endurance for non-nuclear submarines with an astounding 18 days.  The Deutsche Marine received its first Type 212 sub in 2005, and its last in 2016.

Although small, the Deutsche Marine is quite active in the Baltic Sea.  With Russia so close, it has to be.  But this lack of U-boats raises questions about its operational capabilities in case of war.

Germany and Chancellor Angela Merkel have been under the spotlight for falling short of NATO’s 2% GDP defense commitment.  Merkel, who is still trying to form a coalition government following September’s elections, has promised to reach the 2% requirement by 2024.

The current German defence budget is $43.5 billion, which amounts to 1.26% of GDP.  To reach the 2% mark, the budget must jump to $82 billion.