Type 212 submarine

Type 212 submarine in dock at HDW/Kiel
Class overview
Builders: Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW) - Fincantieri SpA
Preceded by: Type 206 submarine, Sauro class submarine
Cost: 371 million Euros
In service: 2002
In commission: 2005
Planned: 14
Completed: 10
Active: 8
General characteristics
  • 1,450 tonnes (1,430 long tons) surfaced
  • 1,830 tonnes (1,800 long tons) submerged
  • 56 m (183.7 ft)
  • 57.2 m (187.66 ft) (2nd batch)
Beam: 7 m (22.96 ft)
Draft: 6 m (19.68 ft)
Installed power: 1 x MTU-396 16V (2,150 kW); 1 x Siemens Permasyn electric motor Type FR6439-3900KW (2,850 kW)
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h) submerged, 12 knots surfaced[3]
  • 8,000 nm (14,800 km, or 9,196 miles) at 8 knots (15 km/h) surfaced
  • 3 weeks without snorkeling, 12 weeks overall
Endurance: Surface 14,800 km at 15 km/h, Subsurface 780 km at 15 km/h, 3,000 nm at 4 kts,
Test depth: over 700 m (2,296 ft)[4]
Complement: 5 officers, 22 men
Sensors and
processing systems:
CSU 90 (DBQS-40FTC), Sonar: ISUS90-20, Radar: Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 I-band nav.,
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
EADS FL 1800U suite
Armament: 6 x 533 mm torpedo tubes (in 2 forward pointing groups of 3) with 13[5] DM2A4, Black Shark Torpedo, IDAS missiles and 24 external naval mines (optional)

The German Type 212 class, also Italian Todaro class,[6] is a highly advanced design of non-nuclear submarine developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) for the German and Italian navies. It features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) compressed hydrogen fuel cells. The submarines 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 little exhaust heat. The system is also said to be vibration-free, extremely quiet and virtually undetectable.

Type 212 is the first fuel cell propulsion system equipped submarine series.


At the beginning of the 1990s the German Navy was seeking a replacement for the Type 206 submarines. Initial study started on a Type 209 improved design, with AIP capability, called Type 212.

The final programme started in 1994 as the two navies of Germany and Italy began working together to design a new conventional submarine, respectively to operate in the shallow and confined waters of the Baltic Sea and in the deeper waters of the Mediterranean Sea. The two different requirements were mixed into a common one and, because of significant updates to the design, the designation has been changed to Type 212A since then.

In April 22, 1996 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) gave the start to the cooperation for building 4 vessels for German Navy and 4 vessels for Italian Navy. Its main aim was the construction of identical boats and the start of a collaboration in logistic and life-cycle support for the two navies.

The German government placed an initial order of four Type 212A submarines in 1998. 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.

In the same year the Italian government placed an order of two U212A submarines built by Fincantieri for the Italian Navy (Marina Militare) at Muggiano shipyard, designated as the Todaro class.[6]

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.

On 21 April 2008 the Italian Navy ordered the optional second batch of submarine, in the same configuration of the original ones. Some upgrading should involve materials and components of commercial derivation, as well as the software package of the CMS. The intention is to keep the same configuration of the first series and reduce maintenance costs.

The export-oriented Type 214 submarine succeeds the Type 209 submarine and shares certain features with the Type 212A, such as the AIP fuel cell propulsion.

Poland announced in December 2013 they will not buy, but only lease, two U212-A's, on account of not meeting "requirements of tactical and technical equipment developed by the military, including in particular the propulsion system, missile weapons and rescue system".[7]

Italian Navy, as said December 22, 2015 by Admiral de Giorgi, Navy Commander in Chief, planned to build another batch (the third) of two U212A.

In October 2016, during the celebration of the commissioning of U36, the German Navy announced to procure another batch of two U212A within the next decade.[8]


Partly owing to the "X" arrangement of the stern planes, the Type 212 is capable of operating in as little as 17 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, significantly reducing the chances of it being detected by magnetometers or setting off magnetic naval mines.



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.


U31 of the German Navy in Kiel harbor
U33 in Tallinn harbor, Estonia

Currently, the Type 212A is capable of launching the fiber optic-guided[9] DM2A4 Seehecht ("Seahake") heavyweight torpedoes, the WASS BlackShark torpedoes and 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), primarily intended for use against air threats as well as 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 and has a range of approx. 20 km. Four missiles fit in one torpedo tube, stored in a magazine.[10] First deliveries of IDAS for the German Navy were scheduled from 2014 on.[11]

A 30 mm auto-cannon called Muräne (moray) to support diver operations or to give warning shots is being considered, too. 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 second batch of Type 212 submarines for the German Navy.


In April 2006, the German Navy's U-32 sailed from the Baltic to Rota, Spain in a journey lasting two weeks, covering 1,500 nautical miles (2,800 km; 1,700 mi) without surfacing or snorkelling.[12]

The Italian Navy's S526 Todaro was deployed, for over six months in 2008, to the United States for CONUS 2008 exercise with United States Navy.

The Italian Navy's S527 Scirè was deployed, for over five months in 2009, to the U.S. for CONUS 2009 exercise with United States Navy.

The Italian Navy's S526 Todaro, between September 1, 2012 and February 13, 2013, for the first time was deployed to the Aden Gulf, Arabic Sea, Oman Gulf and Indian Ocean.

In 2013, while on the way to participate in naval exercises in U.S. waters, the German Navy's U-32 established a new record for non-nuclear submarines with 18 days in submerged transit without snorkelling.[13]

List of boats

Scirè arrives on a port visit at New London, Connecticut, on 27 August 2009
Name Laid
Launched Commissioned
 Deutsche Marine
S181 U-31 1 July 1998 20 March 2002 19 October 2005
S182 U-32 11 July 2000 4 December 2003 19 October 2005
S183 U-33 30 April 2001 September 2004 13 June 2006
S184 U-34 December 2001 July 2006 3 May 2007
S185 U-35 21 August 2007 15 November 2011 23 March 2015
S186 U-36 6 February 2013 10 October 2016
 Marina Militare
S526 Salvatore Todaro 3 July 1999 6 November 2003 29 March 2006
S527 Scirè 27 May 2000 18 December 2004 19 February 2007
S528 Pietro Venuti 9 December 2009 9 October 2014 6 July 2016
S529 Romeo Romei 2012 4 July 2015 planned for late 2016

General characteristics

In dock at HDW/Kiel
Todaro in dock at Fincantieri, Muggiano.

See also


Wikimedia Commons has media related to Type 212 submarine.
This article is issued from Wikipedia - version of the 12/1/2016. The text is available under the Creative Commons Attribution/Share Alike but additional terms may apply for the media files.