My watch list  

Type 212 submarine

Type 212 Multi Purpose Submarine
Class Overview
Class TypeMulti Purpose Submarine
Class NameType 212
Preceded ByType 206 submarine
Ships of the Class:U31, U32, U33, U34, Salvatore Todaro, Sciré

The German Type 212 is a highly advanced design of non-nuclear submarine (U-Boat) developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) for the German Navy. It features diesel propulsion with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) hydrogen fuel cells. The submarine can operate at high speed on diesel power or switch to the AIP system for silent slow cruising, staying submerged for up to three weeks without surfacing and with no exhaust heat. The system is also said to be vibration-free, extremely quiet and virtually undetectable.

Type 212 is the first of the only two fuel cell propulsion system equipped submarines ready for series production by 2007, the other being the Project 677 Lada class submarine designed by Russian Rubin Design Bureau.

The German government placed an initial order of four Type 212 submarines in 1998. Because of significant updates to the design, the designation was changed to Type 212A since then. The German Submarine Consortium built them at the shipyards of HDW and Thyssen Nordseewerke GmbH (TNSW) of Emden. Different sections of the submarines were constructed at both sites at the same time and then half of them were shipped to the respective other yard so that both HDW and Thyssen Nordseewerke assembled two complete submarines each. The German Navy ordered two additional, improved submarines in 2006, to be delivered from 2012 on. They will be 1.2 meters longer to give additional space for a new reconnaissance mast.

Salvatore Todaro, a Type 212A built by Fincantieri for the Marina Militare (Italian Navy), was commissioned in March 2006, and her sister Sciré was commissioned in February 2007. Two more Italian Type 212As are planned.

Three Dolphin class submarines built for the Israeli Navy are of a similar design, but using conventional diesel-electric propulsion.  


List of ships

Country Pennant
Name Laid
Launched Commissioned
Germany S181 U31 March 20 2002 October 192005
Italy S526 Salvatore Todaro July 3 1999 November 6 2003 March 29 2006
Germany S182 U32 December 4 2003 October 192005
Germany S183 U33 September 2004 June 13 2006
Italy S527 Sciré May 27 2000 December 18 2004 February 19 2007
Germany S184 U34 July 2006 May 3 2007

General characteristics


  • Displacement: 1450 tonnes surfaced, 1830 tonnes submerged
  • Length: 56 m (183.7 feet), 57.2 m (187.66 feet) (2nd batch)
  • Beam: 7 m (22.96 feet)
  • Draft: 6 m (19.68 feet)
  • Propulsion:
    • 1 MTU 16V 396 diesel-engine[1]
    • 9 HDW/Siemens PEM fuel cells, 30-40 kW each (U31)
    • 2 HDW/Siemens PEM fuel cells 120 kW (U32, U33, U34)
    • 1 Siemens Permasyn electric motor 1700 kW, driving a single seven-bladed skewback propeller
  • Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h) submerged, 12 knots surfaced[2]
  • Depth: over 700 m (2,296 feet)[3]
  • Range:
    • 8,000 nautical miles (14,800 km, or 9,196 miles) at 8 knots (15 km/h) surfaced
  • Endurance: 3 weeks without snorkeling, 12 weeks overall
  • Armament:
    • 6 x 533 mm torpedo tubes (in 2 forward-pointing groups of 3) with 12 DM2A4 torpedoes
    • IDAS missiles
    • 24 external naval mines (optional)
  • Countermeasures:
    • Torpedo defence system Tau, 4 launchers, 40 jammers/decoys
  • Sensors:
    • STN Atlas DBQS40 sonar suite:
      • TAS-3 passive low-frequency towed array sonar (deployed from sail)
      • FAS-3 passive low-, and medium-frequency hull-mounted flank array sonar
      • MOA 3070 mine detection sonar
    • Periscopes:
      • Carl Zeiss SERO 14, with FLIR and optical rangefinder
      • Carl Zeiss SERO 15, with laser range-finder
    • Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 I band navigation radar
    • EADS FL 1800U ESM suite
  • Crew complement: 23-27 (incl. 5 officers)


Partly owing to the "X" arrangement of the stern planes, the Type 212 is capable of operating in as little as 20 metres of water, allowing it to come much closer to shore than most contemporary submarines. This gives it an advantage in covert operations, as SCUBA-equipped commandos operating from the boat can surface close to the beach and execute their mission more quickly and with less effort.

A notable design feature is the prismatic hull cross-section and smoothly faired transitions from the hull to the sail, improving the boat's stealth characteristics. The ship and internal fixtures are constructed of nonmagnetic materials, reducing significantly chances of it being detected by magnetometers or setting off magnetic naval mines.

AIP propulsion

Although hydrogen-oxygen propulsion had been considered for submarines as early as World War I, the concept was not very successful until recently due to fire and explosion concerns. In the Type 212 this has been countered by storing the fuel and oxidizer in tanks outside the crew space, between the pressure hull and outer light hull. The gases are piped through the pressure hull to the fuel cells as needed to generate electricity, but at any given time there is only a very small amount of gas present in the crew space.


Currently, the Type 212A is capable of launching the wire-guided DM2A4 Seehecht ("Seahake") heavyweight anti-shipping torpedoes or short-range missiles from its six torpedo tubes, which use a water ram expulsion system. Future capability may include tube-launched cruise missiles.

The short-range missile IDAS (based on the IRIS-T missile), against air threats, but also against small or medium-sized sea- or near land targets, is currently being developed by Diehl BGT Defence to be fired from Type 212's torpedo tubes. IDAS is fiber-optic guided with a range of approx. 20 km. Four missiles fit in one torpedo tube, stored in a revolver magazine.[4] First deliveries of IDAS for the German Navy are scheduled from 2009 on.

Also a 30 mm auto-cannon called Muräne (moray) to support diver operations or to give warning shots is being considered. The cannon, probably a version of the RMK30 built by Rheinmetall, will be stored in a retractable mast and can be fired without the boat emerging. The mast will also be designed to contain three Aladin UAVs for reconnaissance missions. This mast is likely to be mounted on the 2nd batch of Type 212 submarines for the German Navy.


  1. ^ MTU 16V 396 diesel engine. Retrieved on 2006-10-08.
  2. ^ Uboote Klasse 212A. Retrieved on 2006-10-08.
  3. ^ Deutsche Marine TV-Interview (German). Retrieved on 2007-04-17.
  4. ^ Diehl BGT IDAS missile. Retrieved on 2006-10-08.
  This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Type_212_submarine". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
Your browser is not current. Microsoft Internet Explorer 6.0 does not support some functions on Chemie.DE