Type 212 Multi Purpose Submarine
The submarine is a complex, hidden and silent vehicle which, thanks to its intrinsic characteristics, make it the main and effective deterrent against enemy naval vessels capable of collecting information without altering the opponent's behavior. In particular, in the current geo-political scenario, the submarine is constantly engaged in activities of presence, surveillance and maritime safety to guarantee the safety of the communication routes, the freedom of navigation, the fight against the terrorist threat, piracy and illicit trafficking of all kinds. Furthermore, they represent a valid support for the operations of the special forces, resulting in many situations the only suitable means to insert them in a covert way, achieving the maximum surprise effect.
The U212A submarine program is part of an Italian-German government cooperation. As part of this program, at an industrial level, the Fincantieri Group entered into a cooperation agreement with the German Submarine Consortium for the construction of the units. The submarines incorporate highly innovative technological solutions and are entirely built using non-magnetic material with solutions that maximize silence in order to reduce the acoustic signature. In this sense, the boats are equipped with a silent propulsion system based on fuel cell technology, capable of generating energy through the reaction between oxygen and hydrogen, with an autonomy in immersion from three to four times greater than that of conventional battery systems. The boats feature a fully integrated electro-acoustic and gun command and control system as well as a modern platform automation system.
The Type 212 submarine was developed at the request of the German Navy and is being built by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW) of Kiel and Thyssen Nordseewerke GmbH (TNSW) of Enden. Four boats joined the German fleet. The class 212 A submarine represents a great leap in conventional submarine technology. This new class is fitted with an air-independent propulsion system (hydrogen-oxygen fuel cells). Its signature (noise, magnetism, radar, infrared and pressure) is significantly reduced compared even with other conventional submarines. The pressure hull is built of non-magnetic steel of high strength and resilience. Main armament is the newly developed, wireguided DM 2A4 heavyweight torpedo, a further development of the SEEHECHT torpedo.
As of 1988 plans called for building 12 class 212 submarines with an additional drive which is independent of outside air(hybrid drive) starting the middle of the 1990s. With the end of the Cold War the submarine force in the German Navy was getting old. All 24 of the existing German submarines were commissioned prior to 1975. The six older Type-205's were replaced by new construction Type-212's in the late 1990's. The first Type-212 had been epected to enter service in 1996, but in fact was not in service until 2004. Twelve of the Type-206 submarines were extensively modernized and were to serve for ten to fifteen more years. In the early 1990s the future submarine force in the German Navy was expected to decline to around 18 units, but in fact by the end of the decade only 14 boats were in service, and by 2013 only four Type 212 remained in commission.
The Italian U-212A program derived from the Italian Navy requirement for a new class of submarines which comply with current operational needs. In order to achieve this goal, the MMI has found it necessary to proceed on the road to international cooperation with Germany, which, on the basis of a previously defined project, had already finalized in 1994 a programme to build new submarines 4 called "U-212 Class".
The collaboration between Italy and GERMANY, designed to meet the needs of both the Marine was definitely based on the new project, called "U212A" and has been formalized with a Government agreement between the defence ministries of the two Nations, signed on April 22, 1996 (Memorandum Of Understanding-MOU U212A). Key elements of this agreement are construction in Italy and in Germany the same submarine U-type 212A (4 boats in Germany and 2 in Italy) with the option for Italian construction of additional 2 units. The option was exercised and the additional two units of the class, identical to the first, will be delivered to M.M.I. by 2015/6. Integration of logistic and technical supports and Italian and German training is intended to achieve operating economies and the basis for a full interoperability purposes.
The fact that the Type 212CD design had not been finally decided by 2019 may point to a possible hope of attracting other co-operating countries. Poland and the Netherlands had been mentioned in this respect, but the Netherlands was busy with their own program, and tkMS was no longer among the candidates in the Dutch submarine program. A spokesperson for the Norwegian Ministry of Defence says, however, that both Poland and the Netherlands are still welcome to join into the NorwegianGerman programme. Beyond this general view, the Norwegian side prefers not to comment on the Dutch and Polish procurement processes, nor on the evaluations made by these countries.
On 08 July 2021, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems was officially commissioned to build six identical Type 212CD submarines. The procurement organizations of Norway and Germany signed the corresponding contracts today. Due to the pandemic situation, the ceremony took place on a small scale and virtually; the customers were connected via video conference in Kiel. After the event, CEO Dr. Rolf Wirtz said: “The 212CD order is a major milestone. The Norwegian and German navies are getting the most modern submarines in the world, international and industrial teamwork will permanently shape cooperation in the maritime sector, and we have created capacity utilization for our company. Today is a good day for our employees and for thyssenkrupp!”
Worth approx. 5,5 billion Euro, the order comprises the delivery of two submarines to the German Navy and four to the Norwegian Navy. On 07 July 2021, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems and its Norwegian industrial partner Kongsberg signed a cooperation agreement. Industrial cooperation between Germany and Norway is a cornerstone of the 212CD project – thyssenkrupp Marine Systems relies on the Norwegian company Kongsberg for this project and for other projects on the world market. After signing the contract with Kongsberg on 7 July 2021, CFO Paul Glaser commented: “With Kongsberg, we have a strong partner with whom we will continue to realize many projects together in the future. The contract with Kongsberg is by far the largest part of the 212CD project – a sign of how close the connection between Norway and Germany really is.”
Construction of the first boat will begin in 2023. Delivery of the first submarine for the Norwegian Navy is expected for 2029, while delivery of the two boats for the German Navy is scheduled for 2032 and 2034. In preparation for the order, thyssenkrupp has already initiated investments of around €250 million in 2019. The aim is to further develop thyssenkrupp Marine Systems at the Kiel location into an international centre of competence for the construction of conventional submarines. Construction of a new shipbuilding hall has already begun, and progress is clearly visible at the shipyard site. With the order now placed in the Norwegian-German strategic cooperation project U212CD, thyssenkrupp Marine Systems will consolidate its partnership with Kongsberg Defence & Aerospace (KDA), which has already existed since 2017, and expand its value-adding industrial partnerships in Norway and Germany.
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