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Christening of 5th Type 212A U-boat for the German Navy

On 15 November 2011 the 5th U-boat for the German Navy with air independent propulsion was christened at Howaldt Deutsche Werft (HDW) at Kiel, Germany to carry the name U 35. This U-boat is the first of two of the second batch of the procurement program “U-212A” for the German Navy. U 36 as the 6th U-boat of this class will follow in a few months. Building order for the 2nd batch of 2 U-boats was given on 22 June 2006 and keel-laying for U 35 occurred on 21 August 2007 at Kiel.

Through U 35, which is scheduled to be commissioned in mid-2012, the German Navy will receive an improved version of the four Type 212A U-boats (U 31 to U 34) already in service, recognizing some experiences gained during the present operation of the U-boats as well as integrating new operational requirements. Consequently, U 35 and U 36 will be equipped with a new commu-nication system type “Callisto B”, which uses a towed transceiver buoy during submerged operations. Also, the new communication system will enable the U-boat to be interlinked to network enabled operations. Moreover, the prevailing form of periscopes is being integrated into a new optoelectronics mast. As a significant enhancement of the operational capabilities the incorporation of a personal double door system should be mentioned, enabling the covert dropping of Naval Special Forces.

The first batch of 4 Type 212A U-boats were ordered in 1995 and U 35 being the First of Class U-boat was launched on 20 March 2003. Between 19 October 2005 and 03 May 2007 U 31, U 32, U 33 and U 34 were commissioned and have been operated since with very good performance results. During a transit from its homebase at Eckernförde at the Baltic Sea to the Medi-terranean between 11 April and 25 April 2006 U 31 achieved a new record for conventionally powered submarines when it sailed 2 weeks submerged throughout (without the use of Snorkel).

The Ministry of Defence´s new concept “Realignment of the Federal German Armed Forces” of October 2011 defines the total number of U-boats of the German Navy to remain at 6, which will be represented by the U-boats U 31 to U 36. These U-boats will see now a double-crew system, i.e. one U-boat has two crews, which will significantly lengthen any possible presence in assigned operational areas, since time and cost requirements for mere transits can be reduced considerably.

The Type 212A U-boats, of which 2 have been built in Italy for the Italian Navy (Commandante Salvatore Todaro/ S-526 and Sciré/ S-527, commissioned in 2006/ 2007 and stationed at Tarent) in almost identical measures, have a length of 56 mtr (U 35 and U 36 are about 1.2 m longer than the U-boats of batch 1) and a beam of 7 m. Their displacement is 1,450 t at surface and 1,859 t submerged. Their propulsion generated by some 4,250 HP Diesel-electric and fuel cell power systems allow a surface speed of 12 kn or up to 20 kn submerged, the range is 8,000 nmi at 8 kn. Noteworthy is the operational diving depth of up to 400 m. Their armament are wire guided heavy weight torpedoes Type DM2A4, to be launched from 6 bow torpedo tubes, three at the same time if required. U-212A is able to deliver up to 24 mines from torpedo tubes. Latest addition is the meanwhile tested ability to fire AA Missiles Type IDAS in selfdefence against ASW aircraft.

The duty complement of each U-boat on patrol comprises 27 officers and petty officers, among those for a first time also female soldiers. There are already 3 women fully trained and servicing on board.


USS California commissioned as 8th SSN of the “Virginia”-Class

On 29 October 2011, the US Navy commissioned USS California at Norfolk, Virginia, after 65 months of construction at the Newport News shipyard, being the 8th SSN of the “Virginia”-Class. The “Virginia”-Class submarines of the US Navy, designated as “Fast Attack Submarines”, are the replacement for the “Los Angeles”-Class SSNs, of which some 62 units have been built, but meanwhile 19 of those have already been retired.

USS California on the day before commissioning

In 1988 a 4.2 Bill. USD building order was given to design and construct the first 4 new SSN of the “Virginia”-Class (Displacement about 7,800 t, length 115 m, beam 10,4 m, crew 134, speed more than 30 kn submerged, 12 VLS for BGM-109 “Tomahawk” Cruise Missiles, 4 bow torpedo tubes). All 4 submarines (Virginia/ SSB 774, Texas/ SSN 775, Hawaii/ SSN 776 and North Carolina/ SSN 777) of the 1st batch (=Block I) have been commissioned.

The commissioning of USS California means, that meanwhile 4 (New Hampshire/ SSN 778, New Mexico/ SSN 779, Missouri/ SSN 780 and California/ SSN 781) of 6 submarines planned for the 2nd batch have been taken over by the US Navy for active service. The 5th and 6th submarine of this batch (Mississippi/ SSN 782 and Minnesota/ SSN 783) is to follow in April 2012, respectively April 2013.

The costs for the construction of one submarine are quoted to be on average between 1,6 and 1,8 Bill. USD.

Since 2009 the construction program for the 3rd batch (this batch is already to integrate some features of the SSGN of the “Ohio”-Class) of 8 SSN of the “Virginia”-Class is underway. The 3rd submarine (SSN 786) of this batch has been keel layed in September 2011 at the Electric Boat shipyard at Groton, Connecticut. The 1st and 2nd submarine of this batch (North Dakota/ SSN 784 and John Warner/ SSN 785) are planned for commissioning in August 2014, respectively August 2015. Further submarines of this batch will be SSN 786 so far as boat no. 13 of the “Virginia”-Class, to be followed by SSN 788, 789, 790 and 791.

Currently, there are firm considerations to construct some of the next SSNs of the “Virginia”-Class in SSGN configuration from the start, since the SSGN of the converted SSBN of the “Ohio”-Class (see our “flotsam” of October 2011) will reach the end of their life time starting in 2025. Plan is to enlarge the SSN of the “Virginia”-Class in SSGN role by a 30 m section, allowing to accommodate 26 more “Tomahawk” cruise missiles beyond the ones already on board., i.e. to have a total missile payload of then 40.

The further program foresees plans for up to 32 “Virginia”-Class SSN. In FY 2014 building order for a 4th batch of some 11 units (SSN 792 – SSN 801) is expected. Building order for a further 5th and final batch of some 3 units (SSN 802 – SSN 804) has to wait for Congress approval in future budgets..


End of the bribe money affair around the building order for two Type 209PN submarines for Portugal

On 15t November 2011 media reported, that a court settlement agreement has been reached with regard to the case of alleged bribemoney being paid to facilitate the building orders for the Type 214 submarines for the Hellenic Navy and the two Type 209PN submarines for Portugal at HDW at Kiel. According to the agreement, the industrial service company of “Ferrostaal” from Essen, Germany, which in November 2003 won the contract together with HDW and Thyssen Nordseewerke as combined bidder for two Type 209PN submarines for Portugal, is to pay a fine of 149 Mill. Euros. Only in June 2011, fines up to 277 Mill. Euros were quoted to be demanded by the public prosecutor at Munich court as a fine against “Ferrostaal” for bribing during the negotiations about the procurement of submarines for Greece and Portugal. In this context media claimed, the honorary consul for Portugal at Munich to have been be a recipient of some 1.6 Mill. Euros for his intermediary services, to facilitate, inter alia, direct contacts to the then Portuguese government under Jose Manuel Barroso. Moreover, Portuguese media speculated about the unclear management of the country´s defence budget in light of a deficit detected of some 30 Mill. Euros.

With that an end seems to have been found for the time being in the project management for the two Portuguese submarines. Despite of all economical problems Portugal has duly paid its two submarines, the cost figures named range between 600 Mill. Euros and 880 Mill. Euros.

Portugal replaces its three older submarines of the French Type “Daphne” by the Tridente and the Arpão. NRP Tridente (S-167) has been constructed at Kiel since May 2005 and was commissioned on 17 June 2010, whereas NRP Arpão (S-168) was under construction as of April 2007 and has been commissioned on 22 December 2010.

The Type 209PN submarines, which are essentially HDW export Type “214” submarines, carry that designation, because the initial invitation to bid by Portugal was to meet very much the parameter of the HDW export Type “209/ 1500”, but was changed to aim for the export Type “214”. Now, Portugal operates modern submarines with air independent propulsion plus many other features of this type.

By and large, the technical data equal those of the Type “214”: Displacement at surface 1,700 t and 1,930 t submerged, length 68 m, beam 6,3 m, speed at surface 12 kn and 20 kn submerged, main armament is heavy weigth torpedoes to be launched out of 8 bow torpedo tubes, the crew is said to be around 32.


After all: 6th “Dolphin”-Class submarine for Israels Navy secured

In our Sep and Dec 2011 issue of our “Flotsam” we reported about the state of the possible acquisition of a 6th “Dolphin”-Class submarine for the Navy of Israel, supported by Germany and to be built in Germany.

On 01 December 20111 several news agency and print media in Germany and Israel spread the news, that the German Federal Government has confirmed officially its further support of this project. Now, the German financial support of some 135 Mill Euros (= 180 Mill. USD) is secured in the German Federal budget 2012, and, at the same time, the construction at HDW at Kiel.

According to the news, the 4th and 5th “Dolphin”-Class submarine currently under construction in Germany are to be delivered by 2013 and 2014. The confirmation of a 6th submarine of this class will prevent a gap in submarine construction at HDW at Kiel, since this submarine is supposed to be ready by 2015. Following the end of any submarine construction at Thyssen Nordseewerke at Emden (see “Flotsam” of Dec 2011) the latest submarine for Israel will be constructed entirely at HDW.