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Type 212A submarine

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212A-class profile
U-34 underway
Class overview
BuildersHowaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW), Fincantieri SpA
Preceded byType 206 submarine (Germany), Sauro class submarine (Italy), Ula-class submarine (Norway)
Succeeded byType 216 submarine
Cost280-560 million [1]
In commission2005–present
General characteristics
  • 1,524 tonnes (1,500 long tons) surfaced
  • 1,830 tonnes (1,800 long tons) submerged
  • 56 metres (183 ft 9 in)
  • 57.20 metres (187 ft 8 in) (2nd batch)
  • 59 metres (193 ft 7 in) (212 NFS)
Beam6.80 metres (22 ft 4 in)
Draught6.40 metres (21 ft 0 in)
Installed power1 × MTU-396 16V (2,150 kW); 1 × Siemens Permasyn electric motor Type FR6439-3900KW (2,850 kW)
  • 12 knots (22 km/h; 14 mph) surfaced
  • 20 knots (37 km/h; 23 mph) submerged[6]
Range8,000 nautical miles (15,000 km; 9,200 mi) at 8 knots (15 km/h; 9.2 mph)
Endurance3 weeks without snorkeling, 12 weeks overall
Test depth
  • 250 metres (820 ft)
  • crush depth over 700 m (2,296 ft)[4]
Complement5 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
Armament6 × 533 millimetres (21 in) 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 Type 212A is a class of diesel-electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) for the German Navy (German: U-Boot-Klasse 212 A), and the Italian Navy where it is known as the Todaro class.[7] 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 with little exhaust heat. The system is also said to be vibration-free and virtually undetectable.

The 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.

On 22 April 1996 a Memorandum of Understanding gave the start to the cooperation for building four vessels for German Navy and four 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.[7]

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".[8]

On 22 December 2015 Admiral Giuseppe De Giorgi, Commander in Chief of the Italian Navy, announced plans to build another two U212A submarines. In December 2022, an amended contract was signed for production of a third NFS Submarine based on the design of the previous two submarines. The third Submarine (NFS 3) is planned to be delivered at the end of 2030, while a contract for the fourth boat is anticipated in 2023.[9]

In October 2016, during the celebration of the commissioning of U36, the German Navy announced the intent to procure another batch of two U212A within the next decade.[10]

Type 212CD


In February 2017, it was announced that the Royal Norwegian Navy will procure four submarines based on Type 212. Initial plans envisaged service entry between 2025 and 2028.[11] However, the Norwegian 2020 Defence Plan later envisaged service entry "around 2030".[12] This "CD" (Common Design) variant of the Type 212 will consist of six submarines, with the German Navy ordering two new boats alongside the four Norwegian vessels.[1] In March 2021 it was indicated that an agreement had been reached between Norway and Germany to initiate the acquisition program, pending approval by the Bundestag. The contract for construction of the six boats was signed in July 2021 with delivery of the first boat to the Royal Norwegian Navy anticipated in 2029.[13][14]



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. This is a long-standing requirement for German submarine designs, enabling them to pass a strategic point in the Baltic Sea (the "Kadettrinne") submerged.[15] This allows 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.[citation needed]

Air-independent 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.


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[16] 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 IDAS missile (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.[17] First deliveries of IDAS for the German Navy were scheduled from 2014 on.[18]

A 30mm 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 Sea to Rota, Spain in a journey lasting two weeks which covered 1,500 nautical miles (2,800 km; 1,700 mi) without surfacing or snorkelling.[19]

The Italian Navy's S 526 Todaro was deployed, for over six months in 2008, to the United States for CONUS 2008 exercise with the United States Navy.

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

The Italian Navy's S 527 Scirè was deployed, for over five months in 2009, to the U.S. for CONUS 2009 exercise with the United States Navy.

The Italian Navy's S 526 Todaro, between 1 September 2012 and 13 February 2013, for the first time was deployed to the Gulf of Aden, Arabian Sea, Gulf of Oman and the 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.[20]

On 15 October 2017, the German Navy's U-35 suffered damage to its rudder fins while conducting dives off the Norwegian coast.[21]

List of boats

Name Laid
Launched Commissioned
 German Navy
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 19 August 2008 6 February 2013 10 October 2016
 Italian Navy
S 526 Salvatore Todaro 3 July 1999 6 November 2003 29 March 2006
S 527 Scirè 27 May 2000 18 December 2004 19 February 2007
S 528 Pietro Venuti 9 December 2009 9 October 2014 6 July 2016
S 529 Romeo Romei 2012 4 July 2015 11 May 2017[22]
TBC (U212 NFS 1) 11 January 2022[23] 2027[24]
TBC (U212 NFS 2) 6 June 2023[25] 2029[24]
TBC (U212 NFS 3)[24][9] 27 June 2024[26] 2030
TBC (U212 NFS 4)[27] 2025 2032

Italics indicate estimated date

General characteristics

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

See also


Submarines of similar comparison


  1. ^ a b "TKMS baut sechs neue U-Boote in Kiel" [TKMS builds six new U-boats in Kiel] (in German). 3 February 2017. Archived from the original on 10 April 2017. Retrieved 9 April 2017.
  2. ^ a b "MTU 16V 396 diesel engine". Archived from the original on 6 December 2006. Retrieved 8 October 2006.
  3. ^ Holger Naaf: Die Brennstoffzelle auf U 212 A (PDF, German). Bundesanstalt für Wasserbau, Wehrtechnische Dienststelle für Schiffe und Marinewaffen Eckernförde, 23. September 2008.
  4. ^ a b "Deutsche Marine TV-Interview" (in German). Retrieved 17 April 2007.
  5. ^ a b "Dette er ubåtsjefens våte drøm - nyheter". Dagbladet.no. 18 November 2010. Retrieved 27 December 2011.
  6. ^ a b "Uboote Klasse 212A". Retrieved 19 August 2013.
  7. ^ a b "Classe Todaro page at Marina Militare website". Retrieved 27 April 2010.
  8. ^ Tom Bristow (29 November 2013). "Poland gives thumbs down to German subs". The Local.
  9. ^ a b "U212 NFS (Near Future Submarine) 2nd Contract Amendment Awarded". 26 December 2022.
  10. ^ Nachrichtenfernsehen, n-tv. "Bundeswehr bekommt neue U-Boote".
  11. ^ Berg Bentzrød, Sveinung (3 February 2017). "Forsvaret kjøper nye ubåter fra Tyskland" [The Armed Forces are purchasing new submarines from Germany]. Aftenposten (in Norwegian). Oslo: Aftenposten AS. Retrieved 3 February 2017.
  12. ^ "The defence of Norway. Capability and readiness" (PDF). regjeringen.no. Retrieved 31 July 2023.
  13. ^ "Norway's new subs especially designed for covert, shallow water operations".
  14. ^ "TKMS to Build Six Type 212CD Submarines for German and Norwegian Navies". 8 July 2021.
  15. ^ Raimund Wallner In: MarineForum. Nr. 4, 2006, S. 10–18, ISSN 0172-8547.
  16. ^ DiGiulian, Tony. "Torpedoes of Germany Post-World War II". www.navweaps.com.
  17. ^ "Diehl BGT IDAS missile". Archived from the original on 10 July 2008. Retrieved 11 July 2008.
  18. ^ "Erprobung des Lenkflugkörpers IDAS, german". Archived from the original on 17 September 2012. Retrieved 31 July 2023.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  19. ^ Thomas, Doug (2008). "Submarine Developments: Air-Independent Propulsion" (PDF). Canadian Naval Review. Archived from the original (PDF) on 4 March 2016. Retrieved 26 May 2013.
  20. ^ Naming ceremony of fuel cell submarine “U36” for the German Navy in Kiel Archived 26 July 2018 at the Wayback Machine, ThyssenKrupp press release, 15 May 2013.
  21. ^ Roblin, Sebastien (2017). "Germany Does Not Have One Working Submarine". The National Interest. Retrieved 21 December 2017.
  22. ^ "Fincantieri delivers The submarine "Romeo Romei"" (Press release). Trieste: Fincantieri. 11 May 2017. Retrieved 11 May 2017.
  24. ^ a b c "Firmato il contratto per i Sottomarini U212 NFS - Near Future Submarine - Marina Militare".
  25. ^ "Fincantieri Starts Construction Of The 2nd U212 NFS Submarine For The Italian Navy". Naval News. 7 June 2023.
  26. ^ https://occar.int/news/first-steel-cutting-ceremony-for-the-third-u212-near-future-submarine-nfs
  27. ^ https://occar.int/news/first-steel-cutting-ceremony-for-the-third-u212-near-future-submarine-nfs
  28. ^ Gaeth, Klaus. "marine-portraits.de - DEUTSCHE MARINE - UBOOTE KLASSE 212A - Auswahlseite". www.marine-portraits.de.


  • Karr, Hans (2014). Deutsche Uboote seit 1956 (in German). Stuttgart: Motorbuch. ISBN 9783613037083.