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New Overviews about the Imperial German Navy

Since early this year we have added new tabs and overviews to our information pages about the U-boats of the Imperial German Navy in our homepage www.dubm.de. With that, much more detailed data are available about strengths, employments and whereabouts of these U-boats, also data about personnel of the U-boat force of the Imperial German Navy can be consulted now. Essentially, the data are based on the compilations of 1925 by the last Flag Officer Submarines of the Imperial German Navy, Andreas Michelsen, (“Der Ubootkrieg 1914-1918”), and the documentation of April 2012 by the authors Göthling/ Lörscher/ Schnetzke (“Ausgeliefert – die deutschen U-Boote 1918-1920”), which we recently presented as book review under “literature”.

End to the saga about the purchase of used German Type 206A U-boats by Thailand

In our “Flotsam” issues we have reported repeatedly about the intent of Thailand to buy de-commissioned German U-boats, see issues of March 2011 and February 2012. Object was the sale of 4 to 6 de-commissioned Type 206A U-boats by the German Navy to Thailand for a prize of about 190 Mill. Euros. However, media reports about it have been always rather inconsistent, for some time even done deals were reported.

Meanwhile this saga has seen its final blow, as the Thai government on 18 September 2012 has approved a budget proposal of some 760 Mill. Euros for the purchase of two new multipurpose frigates unit 2018, to replace the two frigates of the “Knox”-Class given by the USA between 1994 and 1998, but commissioned by the US Navy as early as between 1970 and 1974. In addition to that, about 175 Mill. Euros of budget provisions have been earmarked to overhaul and modernize the two frigates Taksin and Naresuan, procured from China in 1995.

It is known that the Commander-in-Chief Royal Thai Navy, Admiral Suraseh Runroengrom, has confirmed in the Spring of 2012 the end of the intent to procure used German U-boats, with the deadline of a firm purchasing order having been passed without response on 29 February 2012. Moreover, the change of government in Thailand in the summer of 2011 increasingly showed that the new Minister of Defence, Sukumpol Suwanatat, was strongly against the proposed deal of procuring used German U-boats, also, because he repeatedly indicated his clear preference for Naval arms from China.

With that, Thailand has given up for the time being any plans to establish an own U-boat force.


Future of the Norwegian submarine Force

More than 10 years the submarine flotilla of the Royal Norwegian Navy is composed of 6 submarines of the “Ula”-Class (Ula/ S-300, Itsira/ S-301, Utstein/ S-302; Itvaer/ S-303, Uthang/ S-304 and Uredd/ S-305), which were built by the German Thyssen Nordseewerke at Emden between 1987 and 1990 and were commissioned between 1989 and 1990. This class of submarines replaced the 15 submarines of the German Export-Type 207, which were built in Germany between 1960 and 1965 and were commissioned between 1964 and 1967. Meanwhile, all of these submarines have been either scrapped or were given to other Navies. 3 submarines were given to Denmark, but have been scrapped as well with the abandoning of the Danish submarines force in 2004. 5 submarines were given to Poland, which officially still operates 4 of these, although their true operational readiness is unclear (see our “flotsam” of June 2012).

The “Ula”-Class submarines are scheduled to be in service until early next decade, but a replacement or necessary life extension measures will have to be decided by then and a possible procurement process has to be started well before that. In 2007 a study gave a principle recommendation to maintain a Norwegian submarine component also in the future, what has been approved by government and Parliament meanwhile.

In light of the time constraints it has to be decided until mid-2014 whether initially a mere life extension for the “Ula” submarines shall be pursued or new constructions shall be aimed at, even a mixture of both cannot be excluded. For sure, Norway is seeking to join the world of modern conventional submarines with air independent propulsion technique (AIP). To prepare the decision thoroughly Norway has sent out “Request for Information”-letters in September 2012 to experienced builders of conventional AIP submarines, such as DCNS in France, Fincantieri in Italy, Daewoo in South Korea and TKMS in Germany, to receive solid data on possible costs for the procurement of AIP submarines. Not unexpectedly, media have jumped on this immediately (see our “flotsam” of August 2012). The Norwegian government intents firmly to start the “Project Definition Phase” in 2014 based on the initial selection of the best possible solution. In 2017 then a budget proposal is planned to be forwarded to Parliament.

Given the long and extremely fruitful cooperation between Norway and the German submarine builders and the meanwhile very successful construction of AIP submarines at HDW for the German Navy and export TKMS at Kiel is seen as a hopeful candidate to be involved in the modernization program for the new Norwegian submarine force.


Wreckage of a Soviet submarine detected off the Swedish Baltic Island of Oland

In mid-December 2012 the discovery of Swedish divers off the Baltic island of Oland produced some headlines in the media, as it reminded again to a well known problem for the traditional neutral Sweden, i.e. to monitor its 2.500 km long coastal waters against the unauthorized penetration by submarines, especially during WW II and the times of the Cold War. We all still remember very well the “Whiskey-on-the-rocks” incident of 27 October 1981, when a Soviet “Whiskey”-Class submarine ran aground just 2 nm off the Main Naval Base of the Swedish Navy at Karlskrona, and was freed by Swedish tugs only at 05 November 1981 following some fierce diplomatic wrangling.

Now, divers have found near Oeland the wreckage of a Soviet submarine from WW II broken in two parts, whose existence has been known since the Summer of 2012. Latest analysis says it might be the submarine S-6 of the Soviet “S2”-Class which has been missing in this area since August/ September 1941. Some 56 units of this class have been built, which, given its dimensions (length 78 m, beam 6.6 m, displacement 828 t at surface and 1,080 t submerged, 6 torpedo tubes, crew of 60), resembles roughly the later “Whiskey”-Class.