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Type 212 submarine
U Boot 212 HDW 1.jpg
Type 212 submarine in dock at HDW/Kiel
Class overview
Builders: Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW)
Operators:  German Navy
 Marina Militare
Preceded by: Type 206 submarine, Sauro class submarine
Cost: 371 Millions Euros
In service: 2002
In commission: 2005
Completed: 8
General characteristics
Displacement: 1,450 tonnes (1,430 long tons) surfaced
1,830 tonnes (1,800 long tons) submerged
Length: 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 (3,120 kW); 1 x Siemens Permasyn electric motor Type FR6439-3900KW (2,850 kW)
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 each with 120 kW (U32, U33, U34)[2]
1 Siemens Permasyn electric motor 1700 kW, driving a single seven-bladed skewback propeller
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h) submerged, 12 knots surfaced[3]
Range: 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 mn 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, A184 Mod.3, 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 Navy. It features diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using Siemens polymer electrolyte 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.


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 1996 a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) gave the start to the cooperation. 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 Marina Militare (Italian Navy) 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 a 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.

In April 2006, U-32 sailed from the Baltic to Rota, Spain in a journey lasting two weeks, covering 1,500 nm without surfacing or snorkelling.[7] Seven years later, while on the way to participate in naval exercises in the USA, U-32 established a new record for non-nuclear submarines with 18 days in submerged transit without snorkelling.[8]

Poland announced in Dec. 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".[9]


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[10] DM2A4 Seehecht ("Seahake") heavyweight torpedoes, the WASS A184 Mod.3 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.[11] First deliveries of IDAS for the German Navy are scheduled from 2014 on.[12]

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 2nd batch of Type 212 submarines for the German Navy.

List of boats

Scirè arrives on a port visit at New London, Connecticut, on 27 August 2009

Country Pennant
Name Laid
Launched Commissioned
Germany S181 U-31 20 March 2002 19 October 2005
Germany S182 U-32 4 December 2003 19 October 2005
Germany S183 U-33 September 2004 13 June 2006
Germany S184 U-34 July 2006 3 May 2007
Germany S185 U-35 21 August 2007 November 2011 planned for early 2014
Germany S186 U-36 February 2012 planned for 2014
Italy S526 Salvatore Todaro 3 July 1999 6 November 2003 29 March 2006
Italy S527 Scirè 27 May 2000 18 December 2004 19 February 2007
Italy S528 Pietro Venuti 9 December 2009
Italy S529 Romeo Romei

General characteristics

In dock at HDW/Kiel

Todaro in dock at Fincantieri, Muggiano.

  • Displacement: 1,450 tonnes surfaced, 1,830 tonnes submerged
  • Length: 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)
  • 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)[citation needed]
    • 1 Siemens Permasyn electric motor 1700 kW,[citation needed] driving a single seven-bladed skewback propeller
  • Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h) submerged, 12 knots surfaced[3]
  • Depth: over 700 m (2,296 ft)[4]
  • Range:
    • 8,000 nautical miles (14,800 km, or 9,196 miles) at 8 knots (15 km/h)
  • Endurance: 3 weeks without snorkeling, 12 weeks overall
  • Armament:
  • 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 rangefinder
    • Riva Calzoni periscope masts and snorkeling systems
    • Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 I band navigation radar
    • EADS FL 1800U ESM suite
    • WASS hydrophones
    • Avio GAUDI autopilot and hydraulic systems
    • Kongsberg MSI-91 combat system
  • Crew complement: 23–27 (incl. 5 officers)

See also


  1. 1.0 1.1 "MTU 16V 396 diesel engine". Retrieved 2006-10-08.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "MTU" defined multiple times with different content
  2. Holger Naaf: Die Brennstoffzelle auf U 212 A (PDF, German). Bundesanstalt für Wasserbau, Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Schiffe und Marinewaffen Eckernförde, 23. September 2008.
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Uboote Klasse 212A". Retrieved 2013-08-19. 
  4. 4.0 4.1 "Deutsche Marine TV-Interview" (in German). Retrieved 2007-04-17. 
  5. 5.0 5.1 "Dette er ubåtsjefens våte drøm - nyheter". 2010-11-18. Retrieved 2011-12-27. 
  6. 6.0 6.1 "Classe Todaro page at Marina Militare website". Retrieved 2010-04-27.  Cite error: Invalid <ref> tag; name "Todaro" defined multiple times with different content
  7. Thomas, Doug (2008). "Submarine Developments: Air-Independent Propulsion" (PDF). Canadian Naval Review. Retrieved 2021-12-15. 
  10. DM2 A-4 Uses a fibre-optic-wire
  11. "Diehl BGT IDAS missile". Archived from the original on 2008-07-10. Retrieved 2008-07-11. 
  12. Erprobung des Lenkflugkörpers IDAS, german
  13. 24 Torpedoes ATLAS DM2A4

External links

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