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HS Papanikolis Type 214 submarines ARCHIMEDES

The Hellenic Navy was the first navy outside of Germany to order a fuel cell driven submarine. In February 2000 Greece ordered threee new 214-class submarines from German owned Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH [HDW] under the ARCHIMEDES program and an overhaul for three older 209-class submarines from HDW under the NEPTUNE II program. Subsequently a further Type 214 boat was ordered in May 2002. Disagreements over perceived design flaws delayed delivery of all four subs. Production and fiscal difficulties on both sides eventually resulted in the Germans pulling out of the deal. The government of Greece negotiated with the ThyssenKrupp regarding the disposition of the four submarines, but for a time it seemed likely the Hellenic Navy would see none of the hulls commissioned into service. This had direct impact on Hellenic Navy undersea warfare capability.

By 2010 Athens had paid 2.03 billion euros on the project, of a total estimated cost of 2.84 billion, with nothing to show for it, according to Minister of National Defence Evangelos Venizelos. At that time plans to overhaul two of the older submarines were scrapped and two new submarines would be ordered instead, at a cost of 500 million euros each. The upgrading of two older subs had been judged technically and economically not justifiable.

The Hellenic Navy contracted for four Type 214 submarines from German owned ThyssenKrupp with four hulls to be built; one in Germany, and the other three in a Greek Skaramanga Shipyard, partially operated by ThyssenKrupp. Plate cutting for the first locally built Type 214 Katsonis-class diesel-electric submarine (SSK), HS Pipinos (S-121), began on 15 October 2002 at HDW subsidiary Hellenic Shipyards' Skaramanga yard in Greece. Delivery date has tentatively been set for March 2007. At that time work was progressing on HS Papanikolis (S-120), the first Type 214 being built for the Hellenic Navy by HDW in Kiel, and a tentative delivery date has been set for March 2005. The first Kiel-built submarine, named Papanikolis [not Katsonis, as initially reported] was launched in Kiel, Germany in April 2004.

In 2005: ThyssenKrupp acquired HDW and its subsidiary HSY. And from 2005 the Greek government ceased to make contractually due installment payments for the two submarine programs. The Navy repeatedly postponed taking delivery of the new subs, developed by the German shipyard of Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH, following reports that the boat lists when surfaced in heavy seas and has a noisy propulsion system despite claims by the manufacturer that it is among the quietest subs now in production.

On 12 March 2007, German Defense Minister Dr. Franz Josef Jung met with Greek Minister of Defense Meimarakis to discuss bilateral defense cooperation issues, including the issue of the four Type 214 submarines being built by Germany for the Hellenic Navy. Meimarakis underscored that Greece expected "contractual obligations" on the sub would be met in full, while Jung delivered what Greek press reports described as an "indirect warning" concerning the Skaramangas shipyards outside Athens. The shipyards, controlled by the German group Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems AG, were seeking to build German-designed frigates for the Hellenic Navy. Withdrawal of German support for the shipyards could throw 1,600 Greek shipbuilders out of work.

By 2007 work on the submarines, almost two years behind schedule, had halted and that there was talk of bringing in a mediator to settle the dispute. Greece had paid 70 percent of the cost of the program and acceptance of the subs in their current state would be the result of a purely political decision not supported by the Navy. Major problems included a listing of 50 degrees in even medium seas and issues with the air-propulsion system. The technical faults the Greeks found in the subs would seem to justify a re-negotiation of the contract, which the Germans had repeatedly rejected. But the Germans held an ace up their sleeve: the Skaramangas shipyards, which are slated to finish the contract for the four subs, as well as at least two German-designed frigates. Withdrawal of the German contracts would hit hard the already suffering Greek shipbuilding industry.

The second of the four German subs being built in Greece was scheduled for sea trials in September 2007. The Hellenic Navy's first type 214 submarine HS Papanikolis successfully completed further sea trials on 27 September 2008. The submarine was been proven to meet and in part significantly exceed all specified performance requirements. This was confirmed by the Federal Office of Defense Technology and Procurement in October 2008.

Military procurement was long rumored to be rife with corruption. Many believe PASOK Defense Minister Akis Tzohatzopoulos in particular profited handsomely from large defense acquisitions. To cite one prominent example, Tsohatzopoulos is believed to have received huge bribes associated with the sole-source procurement of German Type 214 submarines in the 1990s. In fact, many Greeks credit the former Minister's role in this sale as a key factor in his new-found wealth.

Skaramanga shipyard (formally Hellenic Shipyard), the shipyard responsible for constructing three of the four Type 214 submarines, was in danger of closing. The closure would result in the loss of some 1300 jobs, the largest shipyard in Greece and indigenous submarine construction capability. Potential buyers from Sweden, Russia, China and Greece exist, but the way forward depended on the resolution of the Type 214 contract.

By late 2009 production and fiscal difficulties on both sides resulted in the Germans pulling out of the deal. On September 21, 2009 HDW and HSY terminated the contracts for the ARCHIMEDES and NEPTUNE II construction programs on the grounds of breach of contract due to outstanding payments in the amount of 524 million. The government of Greece began negotiating with the ThyssenKrupp regarding the disposition of the four submarines, but at that time seemed likely the Hellenic Navy would see none of the hulls commissioned into service. This had direct impact on Hellenic Navy undersea warfare capability.

The cancelations of the contracts by TKMS was seen as an attempt to break the stalemate in the negotiations. It may also act to build pressure to the coming Greek Government. The general elections were scheduled for 04 October 2009 in Greece. If TKMS really cancelled the contracts and did not delivers the Type 214 submarines, it would leave the navy with eight Type 209s aged between 29 and 38 years old [as of 2009], all but one of them in urgent need of modernization or replacement. This would make the new government look bad. On October 4, 2009, the leftist PASOK won an early parliamentary election with 160 seats to ND's 91. PASOK leader George Papandreou succeeded conservative Konstantinos Karamanlis as Prime Minister.

Talks between representatives of the Greek government and Abu Dhabi MAR/ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems on an overall solution for Hellenic Shipyards began in December 2009. In February 2010 the Greek government announced that 75.1% of shares of the Skaramanga Shipyards had been sold to the Abu Dhabi Mar Group (ADM), with Thyssen Krupp Marine Systems (TKMS) retaining a 24.9% stake.

On March 18, 2010 the three parties signed a Framework Agreement. And in March 2010 negotiations on the contractual implementation of the Framework Agreement began. It was hoped this development would resolve the Type 214 submarine issued. The most likely outcome appeared thatr only 3 of the 4 existing subs to be accepted, with the first built (Papanikolis) possibly put up for sale by TKMS. One additional boat could be built in compensation.

Greece hoped to earn some 350 million euros (480 million dollars) by reselling a German-built submarine whose delivery was dogged by technical concerns, according to Minister of National Defence Mr. Evangelos Venizelos. "The Germans are pricing the Papanikolis submarine at 300 million, let us calculate 350 million without being over-optimistic," he said. In 2006 Athens had refused to accept delivery of the submarine from German contractors ThyssenKrupp when Hellenic Navy inspectors declared it defective during test runs at Kiel. But "improvements" had been carried out at Thyssen Krupp's HDW shipyards and the Greek Navy was prepared to declare the vessel seaworthy.

Further to the Class 214 Program, in 2002, HSY was also awarded by HMOD the contract for the Mid Life Modernization and repair of three (3) Class 209 HN Submarines (Neptune II Program). Both programs were terminated on September 2009 and then were reactivated on October 2010 under new signed Contracts. In the new Contract the upgrading of the two (2) Class 209 Submarines was changed to the construction of two (2) new Class 214 Submarines. Given the woeful state of the Greek economy in 2011, its not clear if these will be built and reports suggest these two may actually be Type 209s without AIP.

On November 2, 2010, the Hellenic Navy commissioned the first 214 Class submarine at Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW), a company of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. Prior to the commissioning, the Hellenic Navy declared the acceptance of this boat together with an order for two more submarines of the 214 Class, bringing the total to six. The HS Papanikolis was the eleventh submarine with fuel cell propulsion in service with the German, Hellenic, Italian, Korean and Portuguese Navies. The remaining 5 submarines of the same type are manufactured in Greece at the premises of Skaramanga Shipyards. The first three were at an advanced stage of construction as of 2010.

The new submarine named HS Papanikolis has a displacement of 1,700 t, is 65 m long and is operated by a crew of 27. It is equipped with an air-independent fuel cell propulsion system allowing a significantly longer underwater endurance. In addition to this, the submarine is characterised by considerably reduced acoustic, thermal and magnetic signatures. Thanks to these features, the submarine is extremely difficult to detect. The diving depth of this type has also been optimised.

The propulsion is achieved with an electric motor 3900 kW combined with anaerobic propulsion system (AIP), i.e. production of electricity from fuel cells. This system relieves the h/b of this type (where operationally required) from the enforcement procedure respirator for charging of arrays, a process that makes the h/b vulnerable to detection by ASW units.

The h/b class 214 will be fully equipped with antennas, transmitters and receivers that are necessary for their communications. The h/b class 214 of the Navy will bring the integrated weapon system ATLAS ELEKTRONIK ISUS company whose consoles with the possibility of switching between functions, will constitute the necessary maritime research systems, such as RADAR, ESM, GPS, PERISKOPIOY, etc. of course many modern technological achievements, OPTRONIC masts as with many imaging features will constitute important shipping and business accessories.

The ISUS completed weapon system, both the torpilles and the SUBHARPOON guided missiles, which will bring the h/b to 8 t/s and at backup locations. The same weapon system integrated, passive mid and low frequency SONAR, SONAR shipping/de-mining assets SONAR and other helpful functions for targeting and firing problem solving. Staff h/b t. "PAPANIKOLIS" consists of 6-7 officers and crew from 28-30 men (Permanent non-commissioned Professionals and Servicemen). The h/b t. "PAPANIKOLIS" can carry sufficient food and drinking water for voyage to 50 days, while no problem refueling with fuel-lubricants.




2001 plan




HS Papanikolis


22 Apr 2004


2 Nov 2010


In Service

HS Pipinos


30 Apr 2007


(Apr 2012)


Fitting out

HS Matrozos


8 Oct 2009


(Feb 2013)


Fitting out

HS Katsonis


10 June 2010


(Dec 2013)


Fitting out



(Sep 2015)


(Aug 2017)










Technical Description

Displacement (surface) 1,700 t
Displacement (submerged)
Dimensions 64 x 13 x 6.3 m
Crew 30
Operational Autonomy 50 days
Propulsion 2 x MTU 16V396 x 2120 kW Diesel, 3,120 kW electric motor, cell battery, HDW/Siemens AIP (Air Independent Propulsion) system x  300 kW .
Maximum Speed (surface) 11 kts
Maximum Speed (submerged) 20 kts
Range (snorkel) 12,000 nm @ 4 kts
Range (submerged) 380 nm @ 4 kts, 230 nm @ 8 kts
Maximum Depth 400 m
Sonar Suite STN Atlas Elektronik DBQS-40, MOA 3070
Fire Control System MSI-90U
ESM Suite Daimler Aerospace FL 1800U 
Surface Radar Kelvin Hughes Type 1007
Periscope(s) Zeiss-Eltro Optronic Sero 14, Sero 15
Torpedo Tubes 8 x 533 mm (21in)
Weapon Systems SST4, SUT, Mk37, Sub-Harpoon

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Page last modified: 24-03-2013 18:49:24 ZULU