Military Wiki
Type 206 submarine
Unterseeboot 15 at Kiel Week 2007.
U-15 at Kiel Week 2007.
Class overview
Builders: Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft
Operators:  German Navy
 Colombian Navy [1]
Preceded by: Type 205 submarine
Succeeded by: Type 212 submarine
Subclasses: Gal-class submarine
Built: 1968-1975
In commission: 1971-2011
Completed: 18
Active: 0
Laid up: 6[2][3]
Retired: 18
General characteristics
Type: Type 206A submarine
Displacement: 450 tonne, surfaced;
498 t, submerged
Length: 48.6 m
Beam: 4.6 m
Draft: 4.5 m
Propulsion: 2 MTU 12V 493, 4-stroke 600 hp (441 kW) diesel engines, each coupled with an Asea Brown Boveri-generator
1 Siemens-Schuckert-Werke 1100 kW electric motor driving single five (Type 206) or seven (Type 206A) blade propeller
Speed: 10 knots (19 km/h), surfaced;
17 knots (31 km/h), submerged
Range: 4,500 nmi at 5 knots, surfaced;
(8,300 km at 9 km/h)
228 nmi at 4 knots, submerged
(420 km at 7 km/h)
Test depth: more than 200 m
Complement: 23
Sensors and
processing systems:
STN Atlas DBQS-21 (CSU-83) submarine sonar
Thomson-CSF DUUX 2 passive rangefinder sonar
Safare VELOX sonar intercept
EDO-900 active mine avoidance sonar
Thomson-CSF Calypso II surveillance and navigation radar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
Thomson-CSF DR-2000U ESM system
Armament: 8 × 533 mm torpedo tubes,
8 DM2A1 Seeaal (206) or DM2A3 Seehecht (206A) torpedoes;
24 mines can be carried externally

The Type 206 is a class of diesel-electric submarines (U-boats) developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW). Its design is based on the preceding Type 205 submarine class. These small and agile submarines were built during the Cold War to operate in the shallow Baltic Sea and attack Warsaw Pact shipping if the war turned hot. The pressure hulls were built out of non-magnetic steel to counter the threat of magnetic naval mines and make detection with MAD sensors more difficult. The low emission profile allowed the submarines in exercises to intrude even into well protected opposing forces such as carrier formations with their screen.[4]


Ten Type 205 submarines were constructed between 1962 and 1968 with hulls constructed of a new non-magnetic steel. The early boats, however, suffered from cracking due to stress corrosion and an urgent programme was initiated to develop a new steel which overcame these problems, which received much publicity at the time. The new high-strength, non-magnetic, austenitic steel has greater elasticity and good dynamic strength, and has proved very satisfactory in service, thoroughly overcoming the doubts that were raised by those early problems, although it has never been selected by IKL's many export customers and thus remains unique to German Navy submarines. Subsequently, the Type 206 was designed by IKL in 1964-65 and a production order was placed on 7 June 1969 for eight from HDW in Kiel and ten from Nordseewerke in Emden.

Of the 18 submarines built for the Bundesmarine (West German Navy), 12 were modernized in the early 1990s and were re-designated as Type 206A; the others have been decommissioned. The current German Navy is starting to decommission some 206A vessels, with more of the new Type 212 submarines being commissioned. In June 2010 the Ministry of Defence announced that all six remaining vessels were to be retired from active service immediately and to be decommissioned by the end of 2010 to cut costs.[2] There are no type 206 submarines left in active service.[5]

A slightly modified variant of the Type 206 (which includes the distinctive dome, or bulge, in the front of the boat), the Gal-class submarine for the Israeli Navy was built to Israeli specifications as the Vickers Type 540 in the UK rather than Germany for political reasons. Three such boats were built, the first being commissioned in 1976. When the Israeli navy received its new Dolphin-class submarines (also built by HDW), the Gals were retired. As of 2006, one had been scrapped and two had been sent to HDW in an attempt to find a buyer for them. When no buyer was found, one of the submarines was returned to Israel for display in the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum.


A major mid-life modernisation was conducted on twelve of these submarines, the boats concerned now being officially designated Type 206A. The work started in mid-1987 and completed in February 1992, being carried out by Nordseewerke, Emden; this upgrade includes:

The STN Atlas DBQS-21D sonar has been fitted, together with new periscopes, and a new weapon control system (LEWA). The ESM system has been replaced and GPS navigation installed. The rebuilt submarines are armed with new torpedoes (Seeaal), and the propulsion system has been comprehensively refurbished, and improvements have been made to the accommodation.

List of units

Name Call
Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
S192 U13 DRDG 28 September 1971 April 19, 1973 September 23, 1997 scrapped
S193 U14 DRDH 1 February 1972 April 19, 1973 September 23, 1997 scrapped
S194 U15 DRDI June 1970 June 1972 July 17, 1974 December 14, 2010
S195 U16 DRDJ November 1970 August 1972 November 9, 1973 March 31, 2011 Sold to Colombia for spare parts
S196 U17 DRDK October 1970 October 1972 November 28, 1973 December 14, 2010
S197 U18 DRDL April 1971 October 1972 December 19, 1973 March 31, 2011 Sold to Colombia for spare parts
S198 U19 DRDM 15 December 1972 November 9, 1973 August 23, 1998 scrapped
S199 U20 DRDN May 24, 1974 September 26, 1996 scrapped
S170 U21 DRDO 9 March 1973 August 16, 1974 June 3, 1998 scrapped
S171 U22 DRDP November 1971 March 1973 July 26, 1974 December 18, 2008
S172 U23 DRDQ March 1972 May 1973 May 2, 1975 March 31, 2011 Sold to Colombia as ARC Intrépido [1]
S173 U24 DRDR March 1972 June 1973 October 16, 1974 March 31, 2011 Sold to Colombia as ARC Indomable [1]
S174 U25 DRDS July 1971 May 1973 April 19, 1973 January 31, 2008
S175 U26 DRDT July 1972 November 1973 March 13, 1975 November 9, 2005 scrapped
S176 U27 DRDU 21 August 1973 October 16, 1974 June 13, 1996 scrapped
S177 U28 DRDV October 1972 January 1974 December 18, 1974 June 30, 2004 scrapped
S178 U29 DRDW January 1972 November 1973 November 27, 1974 December 31, 2006
S179 U30 DRDX December 1972 April 1974 March 13, 1975 January 31, 2007 scrapped


  • After its decommissioning, U21 had an ever-changing history: First it should have been sold to Indonesia as Cundamanik. These plans were abandoned and U21 would have been scrapped in Itzehoe, had HDW not taken it on for a planned company museum in Kiel. This museum did not materialise, and U21 was gifted to the city of Eckernförde and towed there. For a short time it operated as a tourist attraction/technology museum, but because of local politics it was sold for scrap and broken up.
  • U13, U14, U19 and U20 were also to be sold to Indonesia. Their names would have been Nagarongsang, Nagabanda, Bramastra and Alugoro.
  • February/March 2010 the U26, U28 and U30 were towed by Polish tug Ikar to 's-Gravendeel, Netherlands to be scrapped.[6]


The Colombian Navy has purchased four decommissioned Type 206A submarines to boost its submarine force.[7] Both submarines (ex-U-23 and ex-U-24) were commissioned into the Colombian Navy on 28 August 2012. Two more submarines (ex-U-16 and ex-U-18) will be used for spare parts.


See also


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