Groundbreaking Ceremony Marks Start of Cutting-Edge 212CD Submarine Construction in German

Norway and Germany's 212CD Project begin construction.

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Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P Chacko
Joseph P. Chacko is the publisher of Frontier India. He holds an M.B.A in International Business. Books: Author: Foxtrot to Arihant: The Story of Indian Navy's Submarine Arm; Co Author : Warring Navies - India and Pakistan. *views are Personal

The official ceremony marking the beginning of construction on the lead large non-nuclear submarine of the new 212CD project was held on September 12, 2023, at the shipbuilding site in Kiel, which is a part of the German conglomerate ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS). This programme involves the joint construction of six 212CD project submarines for the navies of Norway and Germany per a 2017 bilateral agreement. The first boat in the series is being built for the Norwegian Navy and will presumably join them in 2029. German Defence Minister Boris Pistorius and Norwegian Defence Minister Bjrn Arild Gramme attended the groundbreaking ceremony for the new production complex at Kieler Werft TKMS.

The Norwegian and German ministries of defence reached an agreement in February 2017 about the combined design, building, and procurement of new submarines as part of the 212CD project (Common Design). These submarines are an updated version of the German 212A project submarines, of which six were manufactured for the German Navy, and four were built for the Italian Navy. In August of 2017, an agreement between governments to collaborate on implementing this joint programme was inked.

Norway intends to replace its current fleet of six German-built Ula-class submarines with four vessels from the 212CD project. These submarines entered service between the years 1989 and 1992. The German Navy is scheduled to take delivery of two submarines, the U-37 and U-38, which will bring the total number of submarines in its fleet to eight.

A newly constructed shipyard complex at Kieler Werft TKMS (previously known as Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH / HDW) in Kiel will play host to the construction of all six of the submarines that are part of the 212CD project. This timeframe has been moved back to 2029 from its original projection of 2026, which was when the first Norwegian submarine was anticipated to be delivered. The German Navy is slated to receive its two submarines in 2032 and 2034, while the Norwegian Navy is scheduled to receive three more in 2030, 2031, and 2033.

At this time, the overall cost of the programme to acquire four submarines for the Royal Norwegian Navy is anticipated to come in at 45 billion Norwegian kroner, equivalent to 4.4 billion euros. In June of 2021, the German Bundestag approved the funding of 2.74 billion euros, which would be used to purchase two submarines for the German Navy.

The procurement agencies of Norway (Forsvarsmateriell – FMA) and Germany (Bundesamt fur Ausrustung, Informationstechnik und Nutzung der Bundeswehr – BAAINBw) signed a contract with ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS), a subsidiary of ThyssenKrupp, in July 2021 for the construction of six non-nuclear submarines of the 212CD project as part of the joint programme. The contract’s overall value for the construction of these subs is around 5.5 billion euros, making it the largest in TKMS’s history. In addition, TKMS collaborated with its Norwegian partner, Kongsberg, on developing this programme. As part of the joint venture KTA Naval Systems AS, which was founded in 2017 by TKMS, its subsidiary Atlas Elektronik, and Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace, Kongsberg’s contribution involves the development and manufacturing of the new ORCCA AIP system for the 212CD submarines.

The 212CD submarine is a further evolution of the 212A concept. It features an air-independent propulsion system that is based on technology developed in Germany involving hydrogen fuel cells. Compared to the 212A submarines, which had an above-water displacement of 1524 tonnes and a length of 57.2 metres, this one is much larger. It has a length of 73 metres, an above-water displacement of 2500 tonnes, and a submerged displacement of 2800 tonnes. The lithium-ion batteries (particularly lithium iron phosphate – LiFePO4 or LFP) that were developed under the aegis of TKMS will be equipped on the 212CD submarines. These batteries will replace the lead-acid batteries that were used on the 212A submarines. The 212CD submarines will have diamond-shaped hulls that are “stealthy” for increased hydroacoustic stealth. The 212CD submarines will each feature two MTU 4000 diesel generators instead of a single generator.

It was reported in the past that the 212CD submarines would be armed with the air defence guided missiles of IDAS, which would be launched from the torpedo tubes, as well as the naval variant of the Kongsberg NSM anti-ship missile. However, at this time, there is no definitive confirmation as to whether or not these submarines will be equipped with these more advanced systems, nor is there any indication as to when this will occur.


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