German shipbuilders have completely switched to submarines with an anaerobic installationThe Type 209 is formally retained in the product line of the marine department of the German concern ThyssenKrupp.
However, there are no more orders from German shipbuilders for this very successful and the most perfect diesel-electric submarine project of all time.
Shipyards of several countries of the world have collected 68 similar diesel–electric submarines, the latest pair was accepted from the industry by customers – the Indonesian and Egyptian Navies - in 2021. By now, it has been fully mastered by the crews and put on combat duty.
As of the beginning of 2023, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) plants have completely switched to the production of more complex products – submarines with an anaerobic, or, as it is also called, an air-independent power plant (VNEU). Such as Type 212A for the internal customer and its simplified export version Type 214, and the newer Type 212CD and 218 projects created in the development.
Although they have a significant advantage in terms of underwater autonomy (the duration of continuous navigation under water has increased from three days for Type 209 to three weeks for Type 218), submarines with VNEU are much more expensive. In addition, submarines with anaerobic installations are more difficult to operate and require special coastal infrastructure.
Comparing the Type 209 and 214, a number of foreign customers opted for the classic DPL. Thanks to their orders, the production of Type 209 boats was carried out for a long time in parallel with the production of Type 214 submarines. A total of 68 Type 209 submarines of all modifications were built. For comparison: as of spring 2023, the number of operating Type 212A/214 boats is 25 units. Taking into account the three Israeli (Tanin, Rahav and Drakon), made according to a slightly different project, the total number of boats with German-type VNEU is 28 units. Another pair (Turkish Type 214 and Singapore Type 218) are being tested.
All the above-mentioned submarines with VNEU were built in the XXI century; 18 new Type 209 boats were assembled in parallel with them. In addition, at the beginning of the century, Israel received three boats from Germany (Dolphin, Leviathan and Tekumah are made according to a special Type 800 project), which in total gives 21 DAPL. In a word, in the new century, the pace of construction according to German projects of classic diesel-electric boats and submarines with VNEU turned out to be comparable.
The current lack of effective demand for German diesel-electric submarines is primarily explained by the lack of a modern project at TKMS in conditions when the Type 209 has completely exhausted the potential laid down by the designers.
ONE HUNDRED AND TWENTY YEARS OF HISTORYTogether with Russia and France, Germany is one of the world's three largest exporters of non-nuclear submarines.
All these countries have been engaged in the serial construction of DPL for almost 120 years.
At first, German shipbuilders lagged behind in the pace of submarine production due to residual financing. However, at the beginning of the twentieth century, German admirals reconciled themselves to the idea that the country was not able to surpass the then Mistress of the Seas in the number of battleships. They began to allocate more funds for the development of "alternative" weapons.
Realizing what a formidable force submarines could represent in the future, in October 1900, British Rear Admiral Wilson declared that submarine warfare did not fit into the concept of a noble military duel. "The secret war has always been illegal. Opponents should fight face to face, being dressed in an easily recognizable uniform. Therefore, the submarine as a backstage unfair type of weapon should be cursed in England. In wartime, our government should treat all foreign submarines as pirate ships and execute their crews by hanging."
The German admirals did not share this point of view. Germany began the First World War with several dozen submarines. Luck fell to the lot of U-21: she was the first in the world to conduct a successful torpedo attack on a warship, sinking the British cruiser Pathfinder on September 5, 1914. However, even after that, many naval commanders continued to consider submarines suitable only for coastal defense. Having sunk three British armored cruisers (Aboukir, Hogue and Cressy) in one campaign on September 22, 1914, 1,459 sailors from whose crews died, the U-9 submarine finally dispelled such an idea.
The winners imposed a ban on the construction of submarines in Germany – this was one of the points of the Versailles Peace Treaty of 1919. At the same time, the Germans did not stop working – a group of experienced designers and sailors founded NV Ingenieurskantoor voor Scheepsbouw (IVS) in Holland. She fulfilled a number of contracts with Finland, Spain, Turkey and the USSR. Thanks to the accumulated IVS experience, German shipbuilders were able to quickly establish mass production of submarines according to proven projects immediately after the Nazis came to power in Germany.
COMBAT USEThe Germans have gained great prestige in the world not only as creators of underwater technology, but also as masters of its use in wartime.
Thus, U-21 was the first in the world to conduct a successful torpedo attack on a warship, and on October 18, U-27 emerged victorious in the first duel of submariners, destroying the English E3.
German submarines caused serious damage to world commercial shipping. According to the results of 1917, they sank ships with a total tonnage of over 6 million gross registered tons. On average, out of every 100 ships leaving the ports of England, 25 were sunk by German submariners. During the First World War, they sank 5861 merchant ships with a total cargo capacity of over 11 million reg. tons, as well as 156 surface warships, including 10 battleships, 20 cruisers and 31 destroyers. 372 German submarines were involved in the fighting, 178 of them were killed (48%); one destroyed submarine accounted for about 74 thousand reg. tons of cargo capacity of sunk merchant ships.
Shortly after the outbreak of World War II, U-29 torpedoed the British Koreages, which sank on September 17, 1939. This is the first case of the destruction of a large aircraft carrier by submariners. During the wartime, another 1113 submarines were added to 57 previously assembled submarines (including 1099 built at German shipyards), 863 participated in the fighting, 753 died. The victories of German submariners are estimated at 148 sunk and 45 damaged warships. The total losses of the Allies and neutral countries from German submarines amounted, according to one data, to 2,919 vessels with a total tonnage of 14879472 gross registered tons, according to other data - 2,882 vessels with a total tonnage of 14408412 gross registered tons.
THE MODERN PERIODThe unconditional surrender of nazi Germany and the division of the country into occupation sectors had a strong impact on German shipbuilding.
The Federal Republic of Germany (FRG) was able to start developing its own submarine only in the late 1950s. The first domestic order was for three Type 201 submarines with a displacement of 400 tons . The lead U-1 entered service in 1961. According to the improved Type 205 project, 9 hulls were built and a pair of Type 201 submarines were rebuilt according to it. In 1970-1975, 18 Type 206 submarines with a total displacement of 500 tons were assembled, they were written off at the turn of the century. Three more similar boats according to German drawings were assembled in England for the Israeli Navy.
Based on the Type 205, the Type 207 appeared – an export version with a total displacement of 485 tons . A dozen and a half such ships were built in 1964-1967 for Norway. At the turn of the century, half of them were written off, three were transferred to Denmark, five to Poland. Polish boats were finally decommissioned in December 2021, Skolpen (built in 1966) and Svenner (1967) served the longest (54-55 years).
Six boats of the Type 210 special project with a displacement of 1040 tons were built at the shipyard in Emden. They were transferred to Norway between 1989 and 1991, and are still in operation.
Israel occupies a special place in the German shipbuilding program. A special Type 800 was developed for him in the 1990s. At the turn of the century, the shipyard in Kiel assembled three ships: Dolphin, Leviathan and Tekumah. They were handed over to Israel at the beginning of the new millennium. Then, according to the modified project (with a 10-meter insert for an auxiliary anaerobic power plant), the next three (Tanin class) was built.
BESTSELLERDespite a number of advanced solutions, the Type 800 did not go into a large series, becoming a "dead-end branch" of German submarine shipbuilding.
A different fate was in store for the Type 209. This submarine was designed by the Ingenieur Kontor Lübeck Design Bureau (IKL) under the direction of Professor Ulrich Gabler specifically for export. The beginning of development is the end of the 1960s. Based on the Type 206 documentation, drawings of a submarine of increased dimension with a surface displacement of 1000 tons were made.
The case is made of American steel HY-80, cylindrical shape with a length of 54 m, which allowed for elongation (up to 10 m) by inserting additional sections.
The boat turned out to be very successful, with great potential for modernization. It was built in several versions, differing in displacement, underwater from 1200 to 1810 tons.
Starting from 1971 and until the end of the last century, deliveries amounted to: Argentina – 2, Chile - 2, Colombia - 3, Ecuador – 2, Greece - 8, Peru - 6, Venezuela - 2, Indonesia - 2, India - 4, South Korea - 6, Turkey - 10. At the same time, India, South Korea and Turkey assembled boats on their territory.
In the XXI century, deliveries amounted to: Brazil – 1 in 2005, South Africa – 3 in 2005-2008, Egypt – 4 in 2017-2021. At the shipyard in Kiel, the construction cycle of Egyptian boats before launching was 3 years, another year was required for the configuration, testing and training of the crew.
On its territory, South Korea has assembled 3 Type 209 boats (2000-2001), Turkey – 4 (2003-2007), Indonesia – 3 (2016-2020).
In total, there are 68 buildings, including 18 built in the XXI century. To date, 4 boats have been decommissioned and one has sunk. 63 fleets remain in service with 14 fleets, including those that have partially lost combat readiness.
In 2006, the serial boat was sold for $ 285 million, closer to the completion of the construction of the series, the price rose to 500 million. The amount is considerable, but it pales in comparison with the price for the Type 212A serial case in modern design – over a billion dollars!
LICENSING POLICYDespite the modest needs of its own naval forces, Germany maintains a high workload of underwater shipbuilding enterprises by fulfilling a large number of foreign orders.
At the same time, Berlin willingly distributes licenses for the production of submarines according to the projects of German designers. The Type 209 was assembled in India, Turkey, South Korea and Indonesia.
Compared to direct deliveries, license trading, of course, reduces the total revenue. But the German government and industry have found solutions that make it possible to engage in military-technical cooperation with benefits. Relations with foreign clients are built in such a way that the most high-tech components of the hull saturation of submarines are produced only by German companies. Work that does not bring a large margin and does not require high-tech production is given to the side.
The manufacture of hull parts, the assembly of the boat, the laying of communications can be carried out without using high technology. The Germans completely reserve the release of the power plant, sensors and electronic equipment, partially – mine-torpedo weapons.
It is in these areas that the main investments are being made in the creation of new technologies, so as to increase the scientific and technological gap from partner countries and competing countries in the underwater equipment market.
All this contributes to the promotion of German products and licenses to the world market of naval equipment. But the most weighty argument for importing countries is the fact that Germany is ahead of other producing countries by a large margin in the total number of submarines produced.
The Germans built 334 submarines (and 266 more were not completed) during the First World War and 1099 during the Second World War. These two "jerks" still largely ensure their country's leadership in the segment of non-nuclear submarines.
Vyacheslav IvanovVyacheslav Viktorovich Ivanov – historian, expert.