Marine infantry

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Marines on a Soviet postage stamp, 1943

The marine infantry is a specialized unit for infantry tasks in cooperation with naval forces . This includes amphibious operations such as the sea ​​landing , but also security tasks on board warships and the investigation of merchant ships . The marine infantry can be part of the naval forces, in some countries it is also part of the army or an independent sub-armed force .

Marines (from Latin marinus "belonging to the sea") is the English name for marine infantrymen, in Germany the name marine soldier was previously common.

The distinction between seafarers who use a warship for seafaring and soldiers who are trained to fight hand to hand has been around for a very long time. The Roman fleet achieved its successes against Carthage by using better trained soldiers for boarding. On the sailing ships of the 18th and early 19th centuries there were mostly smaller contingents of marines who on the one hand had combat duties and on the other hand were also responsible for disciplining the crew. In battle they initially operated some of the guns , later they formed the core of the troop for boarding combat. They were also used for landing companies. From these tasks, marine infantry troops with different organizations and tasks developed in different countries. While in some countries strong landing forces emerged, such as B. the US Marine Corps , other countries maintain smaller marine infantry components for tasks in closer cooperation with the floating associations such. B. the use on board or the protection of naval bases at home or in the operational area.

Marine infantry in Germany

Main article: The sea ​​battalion has existed in the Bundeswehr since 2014 . It consists of infantry forces of the Navy in battalion strength . The type of association of a sea battalion already existed when the Federal Navy was set up and again since 2014 with the German Navy.


Austrian Navy and Marines around 1820
Marine of the 2nd Marine Battalion in field service uniform around 1910
Captain of the naval field battery in a service suit, Braundrell (tropical service suit) around 1910

Austrian Navy

In the first half of the 19th century, the Austrian Navy also had marines. It is not known whether these were retained after the reorganization in 1848/49.

Brandenburg, Prussian and North German navies. Imperial Fleet

The Brandenburg Navy had its own Marinier Corps since 1684 , which existed after the dissolution of this Navy in 1721 and only ceased to exist as a marine infantry in 1744 when it was converted into Garrison Battalion number 12 .

With the reconstruction of a Prussian Navy , a Royal Prussian Marinier Corps (also Marinir Corps ) was set up in Stettin in January 1850 , from which a sea ​​battalion was formed in May 1852 . It was used on land and on board.

A platoon of this battalion took part in the battle of Tres Forcas in Morocco on August 7, 1856.

From 1854 until its dissolution in 1881, the naval staff guard was affiliated or subordinate to the sea battalion. The members of the naval staff guard had to support the commander in maintaining discipline and order on board.

The Reichsflotte possessed with the Reichs-Marinier Corps has its own Marines who served preferably to guard the ships and port facilities. The extent to which she had a military police function is unknown.

North German and Imperial Navy

Together with the Prussian Navy, the Seebataillon became part of the Navy of the North German Confederation in 1867 . In 1870 the sea battalion had a strength of five companies with 22 officers and 680 NCOs and men , the headquarters of the battalion staff was Kiel .

Members of the East Asian Expeditionary Corps and the marine infantry (sea battalions) in various uniforms around 1901. Contemporary representation

After it was renamed the Imperial Navy , the sea battalion was reinforced by a sixth company. On October 1, 1886, the sea battalion was divided, the staff and 1st half battalion remained in Kiel, while the 2nd half battalion was relocated to Wilhelmshaven . On March 12, 1889, the two half battalions were converted into independent sea battalions of four companies. On December 3, 1897, a third sea battalion was formed in Cuxhaven from the 1st and 2nd companies of the 1st sea battalion and the 3rd and 4th companies of the 2nd sea battalion and relocated to Tsingtau to protect the German leasehold area Kiautschou . The III. Stammseebataillon - the association that trained personnel replacement for use in China - was set up on the basis of the highest cabinet order of May 31, 1905.

The officers of the Marines were complementary since 1866 only from the army , where they returned after their service (usually two years) again. The non-commissioned officers came partly from the army, but partly also from various naval careers. The teams came from the non-nautical population.

The naval infantry of the Imperial Navy mainly served to defend the imperial war ports , but was also used on board ironclad ships in the 19th century due to a lack of seafaring personnel . The "marines" were mostly used for guard duty and as gun operation .

The III established and stationed in China . Sea battalion took part in the suppression of the Boxer Rebellion and served as a colonial force . The naval battalions stationed in Germany were subject to the inspection of the marine infantry based in Kiel under a major general or a colonel or a lieutenant colonel . This in turn was subordinate to the Baltic Sea naval station . The III. Sea battalion in Kiautschou was subordinate to the Gouvernement Kiautschou (technically also the inspection of the marine infantry), which in turn was subordinate to the Reichsmarineamt .

During the First World War , a total of three marine divisions were set up. The Marine Corps formed on November 15, 1914 , the u. a. consisted of marine infantry and naval artillery , was mainly used in Flanders , where it secured the coasts against British attacks. The strength of this corps was 60,000–70,000 men, of which approximately 10,000 men were killed during the war. Commanding admiral was Admiral z.D. Ludwig von Schröder , called the "Lion of Flanders".

Locations and garrisons
Flag of the III. Sea battalion, stationed in Tsingtau (ca.1914)

In 1914 the following naval battalions existed:

In addition, there was the East Asian Marine Detachment (OMD) in Beijing and Tientsin and a company of soldiers from the 1st and 2nd Sea Battalions as a marine detachment in the internationally occupied Scutari in Albania .

Member of the Sea Battalion in Tsingtau, 1912
Officers and men from the sea battalion and the naval division off Antwerp 1914/1915

Since 1895, marines were no longer used on board warships, but the naval battalions as an intervention force in the colonies. A company was sent to Cameroon in 1894 due to the Dahomey uprising , and in 1904 a battalion- strong unit went to German South West Africa to support the protection force during the Herero and Nama uprising . In 1905/1906 a detachment of marine infantry supported the imperial protection force during the Maji Maji uprising in German East Africa . During the intervention in China 1900/01 the I. and II. Sea Battalion under amplification by one were pioneer company and a field battery as a Marine expeditionary force sent to East Asia. With the end of the siege of Tsingtau on November 7, 1914, the German troops surrendered in Kiautschou . As a result, around 4,700 Germans were taken prisoner in Japan . 76 seriously wounded were handed over to the British.

In August 1914, parts of the naval battalions and reservists formed the Marine Infantry Brigade under Major General Carl von Wichmann , which was expanded to become a Marine Division on August 23 and only existed until November 28, 1914. The 2nd Marine Division was formed on November 24th . The former Marine Division was then reorganized as the 1st Marine Division . Both divisions formed the Marine Corps Flanders under Admiral Ludwig von Schröder (called the "Lion of Flanders"). On June 3, 1917, the 3rd Marine Division was set up, which was then also subordinate to the Marine Corps Flanders. The strength of the corps was 60,000 to 70,000 men, of whom about 10,000 during the First World War have fallen.

The naval divisions were used in the siege of Antwerp in 1914 , in the Second Battle of Flanders , in the Somme Battle , in the Third Battle of Flanders and in the German Spring Offensive in 1918 . After the armistice in Compiègne , volunteers formed the Lützow Freikorps and the Black Jäger Freikorps , some of which were accepted into the Reichswehr .


In the navy, too, according to the structure of the navy, they were subordinate to forces for infantry security of port facilities and for land operations directly related to the use of their own combat ships. The infantry attack on the Westerplatte was carried out by a naval shock troop company MSK. Other missions were only carried out on a small scale during Operation Barbarossa.

Navy of the Federal Republic

Unofficial Federal Navy until 1995 , then German Navy

The German Navy initially planned a large amphibious component. In the course of the Cold War , however, the number of amphibious forces was greatly reduced. The amphibious group emerged with landing craft , which were used to transport troops and military equipment in the German and military coastal areas. The amphibious group also included the combat swimmers and the beach master unit, which had coordination tasks on the landing beach. The also existing naval security forces, which did not belong to the amphibious group, had the order to secure naval facilities such as bases, air bases and headquarters . The Federal Navy did not have any landing troops; in the event of an operation, these would have been provided by units and units of the Army or the allies.

In the 1990s, so-called boarding teams were formed from the ranks of the naval security forces . Your order was u. a. the control of civil cargo ships for contraband within the framework of UN embargo operations . To do this, they were dropped off by speedboat or helicopter (using fast roping , i.e. abseiling on a special rope of up to 18 meters in length). From the year 2000, the naval security troops were to be completely abolished with the exception of one boarding unit, because the security task was to be transferred to the armed forces base as a territorial task .

This plan was revised after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks . Since then, the navy has had an infantry land component consisting of two battalions , the Marine Specialized Forces (SEKM) and the Naval Protection Forces (MSK).

Both battalions belonged to the first operational flotilla created in summer 2006 . The SEKM included combat swimmers, mine divers and boarding personnel, while the MSK had the task of protecting naval facilities inland and in the country of deployment. The SEKM and the MSK were not landing forces. In 2014, with the dissolution of the Marine Specialized Forces (SEKM), the mine divers, the naval protection forces and boarding forces of the Navy were transferred to the newly created sea ​​battalion , while the combat swimmers were integrated into the newly established Special Forces Command of the Navy (KSM).

Marines of the world

List of some marines worldwide
country Manpower Name of the unit (s) Remarks
ArgentinaArgentina Argentina 2,800 Infantería de Marina
BoliviaBolivia Bolivia 600 Battalion ›Almirante Grau‹
BrazilBrazil Brazil 14,600 Corpo de Fuzileiros Navais
ChileChile Chile 3,380 Infantería de Marina
China People's RepublicPeople's Republic of China People's Republic of China 7,500
GermanyGermany Germany 1,400 Sea battalion Target size
EcuadorEcuador Ecuador 1,500
El SalvadorEl Salvador El Salvador 133
FinlandFinland Finland 500 Rannikkojääkärit, Rannikkojalkaväki
FranceFrance France 3,800 Fusiliers Marins ( Navy )
GreeceGreece Greece 2,200
United KingdomUnited Kingdom United Kingdom 7,760 Royal Marines
GuatemalaGuatemala Guatemala 650
HondurasHonduras Honduras 350
IndiaIndia India 1,000
IndonesiaIndonesia Indonesia 15,000 Corps Marinir
IsraelIsrael Israel 350 Naval Commandos
ItalyItaly Italy 3,100 Brigata marina “San Marco” ( Navy ), Lagunari ( Army )
KenyaKenya Kenya 150
ColombiaColombia Colombia 11,010 Infanteria de Marina de la Armada
CubaCuba Cuba 550
MoroccoMorocco Morocco 1,500
MexicoMexico Mexico 11,385 Infanteria de Marina
NetherlandsNetherlands Netherlands 3,062 Corps Mariniers
PakistanPakistan Pakistan 1,200
ParaguayParaguay Paraguay 800
PeruPeru Peru 3,500 Infanteria de Marina
PhilippinesPhilippines Philippines 7,600
PolandPoland Poland 4,000
PortugalPortugal Portugal 1,460 Fuzileiros Navais
RussiaRussia Russia 12,100 Morskaya Pechota (Морская пехота)
Saudi ArabiaSaudi Arabia Saudi Arabia 1,500 Saudi Arabian Marines
SpainSpain Spain 5,243 Infantería de Marina
Korea SouthSouth Korea South Korea 29,000 Republic of Korea Marine Corps
SwedenSweden Sweden xxx Amfibiebataljon
SyriaSyria Syria 1,500
TaiwanRepublic of China (Taiwan) Taiwan 15,000 Marines of the Republic of China
ThailandThailand Thailand 1,100 The Royal Thai Marine Corps
TurkeyTurkey Turkey 3,000 Amfibi Deniz Piyade
UruguayUruguay Uruguay 540 Fusileros Navales
United StatesUnited States United States 203,000 US Marine Corps
VenezuelaVenezuela Venezuela 7,800 Infanteria de Marina
VietnamVietnam Vietnam 27,000



  • Admiral staff : The marine expeditionary corps in South West Africa during the Herero uprising , Berlin (Mittler) 1905 (supplement of the Marine-Rundschau ).
  • Bernd Martin : Soldier radicalization and massacres. The German First and Second Seebataillon in action in the "Boxer War" in China in 1900. In: Military history magazine . Vol. 69, 2010, pp. 221-241.
  • Walter Nuhn : Colonial Policy and Navy. The role of the Imperial Navy in establishing and securing the German colonial empire. 1884-1914. Bernard & Graefe, Bonn 2002, ISBN 3-7637-6241-8 .
  • M. Bunge: In times of war and peace with the III. Sea battalion 1898–1901. Memories of a former marine. Main in commission, Tsingtau 1914.
  • Alexander Heye: The Marine Infantry from December 23, 1849 to October 1, 1890. A contribution to the history of the Imperial Navy. Mittler, Berlin 1891.
  • Rolf Klodt: At sea and on land. On the history, operations and uniforms of the German marines, marines, the naval security force and the naval protection forces. Report Verlag, Bonn 2008, ISBN 978-3-932385-28-5 .
  • Rolf Noeske, Claus P. Stefanski: The German Marines 1818-1918. Organization, uniforms, armament and equipment. Verlag Militaria, Vienna 2011, ISBN 978-3-902526-45-8 .

Web links

Commons : Marines  - Collection of pictures, videos, and audio files

Individual evidence

  1. Strategy & Technology Blog: Command Special Forces of the Navy and Sea Battalion set up. April 9, 2014, accessed April 17, 2014 .