After the German Bundestag released the funds for the German-Norwegian submarine U212CD, the procurement organizations of the Defense Ministries of Norway and Germany signed the corresponding contracts on July 8, 2021. This means that the manufacture of the boats can now begin. The commissioned shipyard Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems puts the order volume at around 5.5 billion euros. The treaty provides for the option of additional boats for both contracting states.
According to the current planning status, the project will start with the design specification (Preliminary Design Review) in January 2023. The completion of the development work (Critical Design Review) should be in September 2024. Steel cut for the first boat will be in May 2025 - provided that these dates can be kept. Delivery of this hull number 1 to the Norwegian Navy is expected in 2029. The Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr (BAAINBw) ordered two boats for Germany. Their delivery to the German Navy is planned for 2032 (construction number 3) and 2034 (construction number 5).
New challenges - new ways
To create synergies and interoperability, the boats will be largely identical. Only a few technical details that the nations value are an exception. A joint usage management system will be set up that includes training for both the crews and the logistics staff.
U212CD is based on the design of the U212A class submarines, which has been tried and tested in the German and Italian navies. Of course, the boat will be adapted to the current state of technology and new requirements of the two navies. In this respect, the new building project relies on well-known and proven systems of the submarine classes 212A, 214 and 218. The construction of the pressure envelope made of non-magnetizable steel and the one that is independent of the outside air also remain outstanding technical features for the new development. Changed mobility requirements and the requirement that the boat be designed for a longer service life lead to an increase in tonnage. This means that the drive system also has to be redesigned.
In addition, there are 'new' capabilities for combating targets on and under water, land and air targets, and monitoring sea areas. U212CD should also have a new battery technology. A study for a lithium-ion drive battery was awarded to thyssenkrupp Marine Systems on July 9, 2021. It is currently still open to what extent this new development will be integrated - client and contractor proceed according to the principle of "fitted for but not with".
In addition to further developments in battery technology, advances in fuel cells and diesel engines are also planned. Two diesel engines from the MTU4000 series are to be used in the U 212CD class in the future.
In order to keep the hull size larger (according to information available from ESuT, U212CD will displace approx. 2,800 tons. Our sister newspaper Hansa-online.de states a length of around 73 meters, a width of 10 meters and a height of 13 meters) To be able to operate (signature reduction), the hull is given an innovative shape. This presents the sensors of the boats with new challenges, which should be taken into account by improving the proven sensors.
A new command and control system and weapon deployment system, ORCCA, is to offer new possibilities in the creation of situation images and networking with maximum IT security. According to the manufacturer, kta naval systems AS, a joint venture between thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and Kongsberg, ORCCA should enable its operators to analyze data from a large number of sensors and systems on a multifunctional console (see illustration). The periscope breaking through the pressure envelope in U212A gives way to another optronic mast. In conjunction with the multifunctional consoles, this allows the operation center of the boat to be designed differently.
The German boats are to be armed with heavyweight torpedoes of the type DM2A4 and with IDAS (Interactive defense and attack system for submarines), a missile-based defense system against air threats.
Anchor points of German-Norwegian cooperation: Kiel - Haakonsvern
The German-Norwegian submarine cooperation program provides for the establishment of a joint Building Program Office (BPO) as the central point of contact for design, construction and acceptance. While it will be based in Kiel, the management will switch between Germany and Norway. About a third of the joint team is said to come from Norway. A Norwegian advance team has been in Kiel since the start of the project and is cooperating with the employees of Section S7.2 of the Federal Office for Equipment, Information Technology and Use of the Bundeswehr.
In the further course of the project, a Lifetime Management Program Office (LMPO) is to be opened in Haakonsvern in Norway. Here, too, management should alternate between the contracting states. Germany will provide a third of the workforce. The agreements on the U212CD program also provide for a liaison office, also in Haakonsvern. It should be the contact person for maintenance and repair questions. Norway also intends to build appropriate capacities in Haakonsvern, i.e. shipyards as well as maintenance and repair facilities.
U212CD opens up new worlds for the German Navy - here comes a really big submarine. For the Norwegian Navy, the project is of strategic importance, not only militarily and operationally, but also politically. Norwegian submarines have always been made in Germany for the past sixty years. It is not by chance that Norway chose Germany as a partner for a joint submarine project. Despite the ups and downs of past experiences.
The project is even more important to thyssenkrupp Marine Systems than to the two marines. After the failed Australian business, U212CD thyssenkrupp Marine Systems is more than just a lifeline. In terms of order volume, it is one of the largest in the company's history. With the U212CD, the Kiel company can set new standards in submarine construction. It wants to show itself ready to establish the standards of the future in this branch of naval shipbuilding and to further distinguish itself as a leading system house for conventional submarines.
Hans Uwe Mergener