The German Navy – The Way Forward?

U‑212 class sub­ma­rine U‑34 (S‑184) at Bre­men, 2007

Until recent­ly the Ger­man Navy oper­at­ed a flotil­la of ten sub­marines, based at Eck­ern­förde. Up to 2010 the Ger­man sub­ma­rine fleet con­sist­ed of mod­ern­ized Type 206A diesel-elec­tric sub­marines, which were orig­i­nal­ly com­mis­sioned between 1973 and 1975, and upgrad­ed since 1992, and four new hybrid diesel-elec­tric/­fu­el cell air inde­pen­dent propul­sion (AIP) Type 212A sub­marines, which were com­mis­sioned between 2004 and 2006. In 2010 the remain­ing Type 206A subs were retired from active ser­vice as part of the Bun­deswehr bud­get cuts. Cur­rent plans fore­see a total of six Type 212A boats, with the final two ves­sels pro­ject­ed to become oper­a­tional by 2012 and 2013 respec­tive­ly. The orig­i­nal plan was to con­struct a total of eight Type 212 ves­sels, but in Jan­u­ary 2004 the Ger­man Defense Min­istry announced that no more sub­marines would be ordered until 2016.

Ger­many pos­sess­es a man­u­fac­tur­ing capa­bil­i­ty at HDW for a diesel-elec­tric spe­cial export-only sub­ma­rine, the type 800 Dol­phin class and has export­ed numer­ous vari­ants of these, Turkey and Israel being amongst its cus­tomers. This is per­ceived as a very capa­ble con­ven­tion­al sub­ma­rine, with var­i­ous ship­yards offer­ing upgrades.

The Ger­man Navy’s main roles, in con­junc­tion with oth­er NATO navies or as part of a UN force, are con­flict pre­ven­tion, cri­sis man­age­ment, peace­keep­ing and counter-ter­ror­ism oper­a­tions. As a result of the 212A submarine’s stealth capa­bil­i­ties, it is also able to car­ry out effec­tive covert intel­li­gence and recon­nais­sance mis­sions. Ger­man sub­marines were deployed as part of peace­keep­ing oper­a­tions in the Adri­at­ic Sea dur­ing the mid-1990s, and as part of NATO oper­a­tion “Active Endeav­our” and sup­port to the US-led con­flict in Afghanistan “Endur­ing Free­dom”.

In sup­port of new oper­a­tional pri­or­i­ties, there are future plans to equip the 212A with a land-attack capa­bil­i­ty. The Inter­ac­tive Defense and Attack Sys­tem for Sub­marines (IDAS), cur­rent­ly under devel­op­ment by Diehl BGT Defence, HDW and Kongs­berg of Nor­way, uses a wire-guid­ed mis­sile to engage heli­copters and mobile tar­gets on shore. The third Type 212 sub­ma­rine, U33 was select­ed as the plat­form for test­ing the new weapon. The mis­sile made the first flight in June 2008, suc­cess­ful­ly launched from the tor­pe­do tubes of the sub­merged sub­ma­rine.

Mine Coun­ter­mea­sures Fleet

The Ger­man Navy oper­ates five Type 352 minesweep­ers equipped with hull mount­ed DSQS-11 mine detec­tion sonar and the ‘Troi­ka Plus’ sys­tem, com­pris­ing a manned moth­er­ship and unmanned Sea­hound (seal) ves­sels being the lead ele­ment. Some of the old­er Type 333 (con­vert­ed fast gun boats) are cur­rent­ly being retired.

The Arti­cle “The Ger­man Navy – The Way For­ward?” was first pub­lished on Defense Update


About the author:
Peter L. Hart­ley, MSc, CAET, MIn­stP, MIET

Peter Hart­ley has 41+ years expe­ri­ence in Defense Elec­tron­ics (radar, elec­tron­ic war­fare, C3I, CIS and mis­sion sys­tems) and asso­ci­at­ed activ­i­ties with­in UK Prime Con­trac­tors, with a depth of expe­ri­ence in the field of Sys­tems includ­ing Sys­tem Archi­tec­ture, Bid Man­age­ment and Reviews at national/international lev­els, Busi­ness Devel­op­ment and Busi­ness Cre­ation, Cus­tomer Liai­son (includ­ing 4* Mil­i­tary Staff and Defense Min­is­ters), Con­tract Nego­ti­a­tion, Mar­ket­ing Sup­port, Engi­neer­ing and Pro­gram Man­age­ment, Design Author­i­ty, Team Build­ing, and Research. Now an Inde­pen­dent Defense Con­sul­tant (, he is a Con­trib­u­tor to Defense Update (, edit­ed by Tamir Eshel.

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