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Major Contract in Immediate Prospect for ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS)

On Friday 03 February the Norwegian ministry of defense announced that Germany has been chosen to be Norway´s strategic partner in submarine procurement. Together with Germany Norway plans to acquire 6 submarines of a type that is to be developed on basis of the German submarine Type 212 whereby 4 are intended for the Norwegian navy and 2 for the German. In a statement the German ministry of dense spoke about “good news”. The already very close cooperation with NATO-partner Norway is to be further intensified. Germany significantly moves it´s submarine procurement earlier forward on the timeline. The economics minister of the German State of Schleswig-Holstein spoke of “one giant leap” for shipyards and industries in his state, which will benefit both financially and technologically.

After negotiations with the German government are finished talks are to be started with TKMS. For the first time after the defeat against it´s French competitor Direction des Constructions Navales (DCNS) – see Flotsam June 2016– who also made bets in case, TKMS has a major contract in immediate prospect. Both countries aim at signing the contracts in 2019 and at delivering the boats from 2025 on.

Submarines from Germany in the Norwegian Navy

The Ula-class (Class 210)
Two Ula-class boats in Bergen in 2009. Photo: Petr Šmerkl, Wikipedia

The four submarines planned for the Norwegian Navy are to replace the 6 submarines of the Ula-class, also called Class 210 in Germany, currently serving in the Norwegian navy. Developed and planned by the Ingenieurkontor Lübeck (IKL) based at the HDW-shipyard in Kiel the boats were built at the former Thyssen Nordseewerke Emden from January 1987 on and were commissioned into the Norwegian Navy from April 1989 on. They are small and extremely silent boats designed for coastal operations. As the first class of Norwegian submarines, on the Ula-class every man has his own bunk. There is also a shower on board. On 11 September 1995 Solveig Krey became the first female commander of a military submarine in the world.

The Kobben-Class (Class 207)
The ORP Kondor, formerly KNM Kunna, a Kobben-class submarine. Photo: Ministerstwo Obrony Narodowej (Polish ministry of defense) https://www.mon.gov.pl/

Prior to the boats of the Ula-class the Norwegian navy had up to 15 boats of the Kobben Class in service from 1964 to 1990. This class is also called Class 207 in Germany. The defense of the NATO´s northern flank had a significant importance during these times of cold war, so that the Norwegian Navy was to be equipped with a battle-worthy submarine force. The USA bore half of the incurred costs. At the beginning of the 1960s the Norwegian navy needed a small submarine mainly for coastal operation and chose a design by the IKL, which was an improved version of the German type 201 submarine. The German navy lent the Norwegian navy the newly built U 3 for two years for trials and evaluation and detached the leading German submarine engineer Christoph Aschmoneit to the Norwegian navy. Aschmoneit received his practical submarine training on a submarine named Vesikko built in Finland by German engineers and was part of the expert committee formed to find the cause of the sinking of the German submarine U Hai. The Kobben-class boats were built from 1962 on at the Nordseewerke Emden. They were the first submarines in Germany to be built for export. They proved to be reliable and seaworthy boats during their service in the Norwegian Navy. Four of them are still in service in the Polish navy today.

Type VII C

The submarines of the Kobben-class replaced the three boats of Type VII C and the 5 boats of the U- respectively the V-class at the beginning of the 1960s. These boats were handed over to Norway in 1946 and were completely outdated at that time. Of the three German boats U 995 is certainly the best known since it is the only surviving VII C boat today and is on display at the Laboe Naval Memorial.

U 995 in front of the Laboe Naval Memorial. Photo: Dirk Pries

The Norwegian navy had 6 boats of the B-class in service before WWII. These boats were built under license in Norway from the the American C-class. 4 of them were seized by the Kriegsmarine during the invasion of Norway in 1940. Of these two were commissioned as training boats in the Baltic, also see Seized Submarines.

German Marine researches discover Wreck of U 581

On the 75th anniversary of U 581´s sinking the German marine researchers Kirsten and Joachim Jakobsen announced the discovery of it´s wreck and published spectacular pictures and videos of it.

U 581 – the conning tower in a slightly tilted position. The wreck has been colonized by many cold-water corals. Between them at the front of the conning tower parts of the 7th U-Flotilla´s Snorting Bull emblem are visible. Photo: Evonik Industries

The Rebikoff-Niggeler foundation based on the Azores is a non-profit organization for marine science with the purpose of assisting in research and documentation of deep-sea environments. For this foundation the married couple Jakobsen developed the deep-sea submersible LULA 1000 and also operates it. Joachim Jakobsen pilots the submersible and operates it´s technical features. Karin Jakobsen operates the cameras and logs navigation data for scientific evaluation later.

For a duration of up to 5 hours the yellow LULA 1000 can bring up to 3 persons to a depth of 3300 ft in safety and comfort. Originally the LULA 1000 was developed to search for giant squids, lula is Portuguese word for squid. A special feature of the submersible is a viewing dome made of Plexiglas® with a diameter of 4 ft 7” wich allows a viewing angle of 150 degrees free of any distortion. Behind it high-resolution and extremely light-sensitive cameras are installed.

After a several year-long search the Jakobsen already located U 581`s wreck on 13 September 2016, however, they waited with the discovery´s announcement until the wreck could be unequivocally identified  and the 75th of it´s sinking was reached.

The wreck was found broken into two pieces in a depth of 3,000 ft near the Azores island of Pico. The bow area and the conning tower seem to be largely intact, wooden parts as well as thinner metal plates have naturally decayed after 75 years in the water. The wreck became an artificial cold water coral reef. Marine biologists hope to gain more knowledge on the growth of cold water corals and the habitat they offer for other species.