Germany Submarine Import and Export Behavior

Chang Bogo Submarine, US Navy,


Germany is an exporter of submarines and does not import them.


The German naval shipbuilding industry is comprised of numerous yards; however, only Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) and Thyssen-Nordseewerke (TNSW) have experience in the construction of submarines. In late 2004, HDW was acquired by ThyssenKrupp, forming the new group ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems. [1] ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems includes HDW, Sweden's Kockums, and Hellenic Shipyards in Greece. [2]

Submarine Table for Germany

As orders from the German Navy have not been sufficient to sustain existing capacities, and merchant shipbuilding activities have met with less success, German naval shipyards have begun to export submarines to countries all over the world. [3] Within the past five decades, 36 submarines were produced for the German Navy, while 120 completed vessels or material components were delivered to foreign navies.

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems

ThyssenKrupp offers submarines for export:

  • Type 209: diesel-electric patrol submarines, produced since 1974 in various versions;
  • Type 212A: hybrid diesel-electric/Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) submarines, with an AIP system based on fuel cell technology;
  • Type 214: hybrid diesel-electric/AIP, long-range submarines incorporating successful design features from Type 209 and 212A boats. [4]
  • Germany also exports modified versions of its Type 212A and Type 214 submarines to Israel, known as,the Dolphin-class and the AIP Dolphin 2-class. [5]

HDW has exported over 50 Type 209 submarines to a dozen countries, including Argentina, Colombia, Indonesia, Chile, India, Israel, Brazil, South Korea, Turkey, and Greece. [6] In 2004, Portugal ordered two Type 209 vessels (fitted according to Type 214 specifications), which were delivered by HDW in late 2010. [7]

Type 214 boats equipped with AIP technology have also been sold to a number of countries, notably including South Korea, Greece, and Turkey. To add to its existing fleet of nine Type 209 class submarines, South Korea plans to operate an additional nine Type 214 units by 2020. All of the submarines are or will be built by Korean companies Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering (DSME), with assistance and material packages from HDW. [8] The first six Type 214 boats were commissioned into the South Korean Navy between 2006 and 2015. [9] HDW signed an agreement with Turkey in July 2009 to supply six Type 214 material kits, beating competition from France's DCNS and Spain's Navantia. [10] The vessels will be built at the Goluk Naval Shipyard near Izmit and the first boat was expected to be handed over to the Turkish Navy by 2015. [11] However, because of production delays delivery of the first vessel to the Turkish navy is delayed for just under 2 years. As a sanction, Ankara has levied the German producer a €100 million penalty. [12] In February 2015, Germany invited Turkey to participate in the Interactive Defence and Attack System for Submarines (IDAS). The system was originally co-produced by Diehl Defence, HDW, and Kongsberg (a Norwegian armaments producer). As a result of this participation IDAS could be fitted on Turkey's Type-214 submarines, built by HDW and expected to be delivered by 2020. [13]

Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems has cooperated with Hellenic Shipyards in Greece to construct four Type 214 vessels. The Greek government initially refused to accept the submarines into its Navy due to financial difficulties and technical problems during the first vessel's sea trials (the Papanikolis). In 2010, Greece ultimately agreed to pay for the four Type 214 boats, and agreed to purchase an additional two. [14] However, in May 2011 HDW cancelled the contract for these two vessels in response to bribery allegations involving Abu Dhabi Mar, the majority shareholder of Hellenic Shipyards since 2010. Agence France-Presse reported that this dispute would not affect the delivery of the three Type 214 vessels that had already been completed, the Pipinos, Matrozos, and Katsonis. [15]

In 2012, ThyssenKrupp’s HDW concluded a contract with Israel for the construction and sale of a Dolphin-class submarine, the sixth submarine Germany has provided to Israel. [16] The fourth submarine, the INS Tanin, was delivered to the Israeli Navy in 2012, and the fifth, the INS Rahav, was inaugurated in April 2013, and is expected to arrive in Israel in 2015, while the sixth vessel will be delivered between 2016 and 2017. [17] These submarine transfers were approved by outgoing Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder in November 2005, and the German government provided one-third of the total €1 billion ($1.17 billion) in financing. [18] These boats include advanced AIP technology an improved hull design, and are equipped with 650mm torpedo tubes. [19]

In addition to sales, ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems also retrofits submarines with its fuel cell AIP system via a plug-in extension, undertaken during a significant overhaul or refurbishment. [20] The refit significantly increases a submarine's submerged capabilities.

ThyssenKrupp's HDW and TNSW have extensive experience in submarine development, design, modernization, logistic support, and financing services. [21] They provide crew training, including tactical maneuvering, and simulator technology in coordination with the German Navy and other NATO navies. [22] ThyssenKrupp also overhauls and modernizes submarines. [23]

ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems was formed in late 2004 when the German industrial conglomerate ThyssenKrupp, the owner of TNSW, acquired HDW. Even before this merger, HDW was the world's largest and most advanced producer of hybrid diesel-electric/air independent propulsion (AIP) submarines, and HDW has supplied the majority of the diesel-electric submarines currently operating in Western navies. [24]

Before their union, TNSW had already been cooperating with HDW and Ferrostaal (FS) as the German Submarine Consortium (GSC), on the production of a number of vessels, including three Type 209/1400M for the South African Navy. FS is responsible for marketing, and offering structured financing packages and specific offset solutions, such as counter purchase or barter business. [25] Given the heavy budgetary pressures resulting from large procurement deals, importing countries are interested in maximizing the involvement of existing or new domestic enterprises. [26]

Before its merger with ThyssenKrupp, HDW had already created partnerships with international shipbuilding companies. In 1999, HDW acquired Kockums, the leading Swedish naval shipyard, which pioneered the development of stealth surface vessels (Visby-class frigates) and Stirling AIP systems for submarines. [27]

In 2002, HDW announced its cooperation on both merchant and naval shipbuilding with Izar, Spain's largest shipyard. [28] In the same year, HDW also signed an agreement with Italy's Fincantieri, extending merchant and naval shipbuilding as well as marketing cooperation. The agreement included the development and marketing of small submarines with less than 700 tons displacement, and the institution of Fincantieri as HDW's preferred yard to address contract overloads of boats with more than 1,000 tons displacement. [29] The two companies previously collaborated on the construction of Type 212A submarines for the Italian Navy.

As a result of its market position and products, HDW attracted both competitors and investors. In 2002, Chicago-based Bank One acquired an initial 50 percent stake in HDW, which it gradually increased to complete ownership. [30] Bank One soon expressed an interest in selling HDW, since it had regarded its engagement as a financial investment opportunity. Some believe the restrictive export policies of the German government contributed to Bank One's interest in divesting itself from HDW, as an explicit prohibition by the German government had made it clear that a lucrative submarine sale or technology transfer to Taiwan was unlikely to materialize. [31]

TNSW had less success in its independent operations, although it had exported vessels to Norway and Argentina. The yard nevertheless has experience in submarine development, design, and modernization, both through these independent exports and through joint production with HDW for the German, South African and Israeli Navies. [32] Unlike HDW, TNSW chose a closed-cycle diesel technology for its AIP system, but was unsuccessful in marketing it, as it has yet to be employed by any navy. [33] The yard was also developing mini-submarines with less than 500 tons displacement, to be equipped with this AIP system. [34]

The fact that before the merger TNSW was unable to design or produce (independently) submarines in excess of 500 tons displacement, and instead chose to cooperate with HDW, is indicative of the intense competition resulting from excess capacities in submarine producing countries. By allying with each other, the companies were able to stop competing and receive more effective support from German authorities, including embassies and the German Navy. [35] The lack of support by German officials had been cited as one reason why Kockums had been chosen in 1987 to deliver the Australian Collins-class submarines. [36] This problem seems to have been successfully addressed, as the cooperation between industry, the diplomatic service, and the government demonstrated in the conclusion of the export deal with South Africa in 2002, and a number of other recent export contracts. [37] Such cooperation is vital to sustaining the privately held German shipbuilding industry and knowledge base, especially given the export restrictions faced by the industry. [38] It also helps to explain why the German government strongly supported the sale of HDW to ThyssenKrupp.

[1] "ThyssenKrupp Technologies acquires 25 percent stake from OEP," ThyssenKrupp Press Release, 13 January 2009,
[2] "Pipe Dreams Aboard," Economist, 30 October 2004, p. 67; and "Germany Forces Shipyard Alliance," Military Technology (Bonn), Vol. 28, No. 11 (November 2004); in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,
[3] Dieter Hanel, "The German defense industry," Military Technology, August/September 2003, Vol. 27, No. 8/9, pp. 19-30; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,
[4] "HDW wird grosster Hersteller von U-Booten," Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, 23 September 1999; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe,; Uta Harnischfeger, "Groups battle to control HDW," Financial Times, 9 July 2003; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe,; and Anthony Watts, Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems: 2003-2004 Coulsdon: Jane's Information Group, 2002), pp. 31-47.
[5] "Israel's Navy Recieves the fifth Dolphin Submarine," Defense Update, 19 April 2013,; "Israel gets fifth 'nuclear-capable' sub," RT, 14 May 2013,
[6] "Executive Overview: Underwater Warfare Systems," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 24 December 2010.
[7] "Portugal Orders Two Class 209 PN Submarines," Deagel, 22 April 2004,; "Portugal Takes Delivery of Second Sub," UPI, 29 December 2010,
[8] "Submarine Forces, Korea, South," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 16 June 2011.
[9] "Submarine Forces, Korea, South," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 16 June 2011; Prashanth Parameswaran, "South Korea Reveals New Attack Submarine," The Diplomat, 8 May 2015,
[10] "Major submarine order from Turkey," Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, 26 July 2009,; Tim Fish, "Turkey Signs contract for Six HDW Type 214S," Jane's Defence Weekly,8 July 2009,; "French, German, Spanish Companies Competing for Turkish Submarine Project," BBC Monitoring Europe – Politicak, 18 November 2007,
[11] "Type 214," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 2 November 2010,
[12] "Millionenstrafe wegen Lieferverzug bei U-Booten," Handlesblatt, 1 January 2015,
[13] "German-Turkish Cooperation on IDAS," European Security and Defense, 12 March 2015,
[14] "Type 214," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 2 November 2010,; "Submarine Forces, Greece," Jane's Underwater Warfare Systems, 2 November 2010; "Submarines' Programs," Hellenic Shipyards S.A.,; Jon Rosamond, "First Greek Type 214 Sub Enters Service," Jane's Defence Weekly, 10 November 2010,; Tim Fish, "Hellenic Navy Accepts Greek-Built Submarines," Jane's Defence Weekly, 25 November 2009,
[15] Huw Williams, "Greek Submarine Completes Trials in Heavy Seas," Jane's Defence Weekly, 15 October 2008,; "German Group Pulls Out of Greek Submarine Order: Minister," Agence France- Presse, 16 May 2011,; "HDW Cancels Contract with Greek Submarines," International Resource News, 25 May 2011,; "German HDW Cancels EUR 650m Order in Greece - Report," SeeNews Shipping, 24 May 2011,
[16] Yaakov Katz, "J'lem and Berlin Sign Contract for Sixth Submarine," The Jerusalem Post, 5 February 2012,
[17] "Germany Approves Fifth Israeli Submarine," CBN, 14 April 2015,; Roi Yanovsky, "Rivlin Tours new IDF submarine during Germany visit," Ynetnews, 14 May 2015,
[18] "U-Boot-Lieferung vorerst gestoppt," Focus, 23 November 2003,; Ingo Preissler, "Nur ohne atomare Ausrüstung," Berliner Zeitung, November 7, 2003, ,; and "German Government Approves Sale of Submarines to Israel," Der Spiegel, 20 November 2005; in FBIS Document EUP20051120014001; Yaakov Katz, " Israel Gets Fourth Sub from Germany," The Jerusalem Post, 4 May 2012,; "Israel Inaugurates 5th Dolphin Class Sub," Defense News, 29 April 2013,; "Israel's 5th Dolphin Class submarine unveiled in Germany," Jerusalem Post, 29 April 2013,
[19] Alon Ben-David, "Israel Looks to Acquire more German Submarines," Jane's Defence Weekly, 25 November 2005; Hinnerk Berlekamp, "U-Boote Atomwaffenträger für Israel?" Berliner Zeitung, 30 January 2006; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe,
[20] Anthony Watts, "Upgrading Type 209 submarines with AIP," International Defense Review, 1 October 2001,
[21] "Marineschiffbau," HDW,; and "Naval Systems and Submarines," MAN Ferrostaal,
[22] "Aktuelles," German Navy,; "Ship profile (III): INs Dolphin," Naval Forces, 1998, Vol. 19, No. 6, pp. 62-77; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,; and Interview with Dirk Rathjens, HDW Board of Directors Member, by Manfred Sadlowski, "HDW — a shipyard armed for the future," Naval Forces, 1999, Vol. 20, No. 1, pp. 60-66; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,
[23] A.D. Baker III, "World's Navies Are in Decline," U.S. Naval Institute Proceedings, Vol. 130, No. 3 (March 2004), p. 32; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,
[24] "Pipe Dreams Aboard," Economist, 30 October 2004, p. 67; and "Germany Forces Shipyard Alliance," Military Technology (Bonn), Vol. 28, No. 11 (November 2004); in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,
[25] "Naval Systems and Submarines," MAN Ferrostaal,
[26] "Strong partnership for exports Ferrostaal and the German Naval Group," Naval Forces, 2002, p. 46; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,
[27] "Visby Class corvette," Kockums,; and "The Kockums Stirling AIP system," Kockums,
[28] "HDW/Ferrostaal kaufen Hellenic Shipyards," Pressearchiv 2001, 12 October 2001, HDW,; and "HDW vereinbart Zusammenarbeit mit der spanischen Izar-Gruppe," Pressearchiv 2002, 24 January 2002, HDW,
[29] "HDW und Fincantieri unterzeichnen Abkommen uber Zusammenarbeit," Pressearchiv 2002, 29 April 2002, HDW,
[30] "Kunftige Eigentumsverhaeltnisse bei HDW weiter unklar," Deutsche Presse-Agentur, 3 March 2003; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe,; and Herbert Fromme, Kirsten Bialdiga, "Unsicherheit um Zukunft von HDW-Werft," Financial Times Deutschland, 18 December 2002,
[31] Uta Harnischfeger, "Groups battle to control HDW," Financial Times, 9 July 2003; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe,; "'Handelsblatt': OEP will Kieler HDW-Werft wieder verkaufen," Agence France-Presse, 25 February 2003; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe,; and "OEP wants to divest HDW, now seeking buyers — report," AFX European News, 25 February 2003; in Lexis-Nexis Academic Universe,
[32] "Yesterday, today, tomorrow," Thyssen-Nordseewerke,
[33] "Air-independent propulsion systems," Thyssen-Nordseewerke,
[34] "Class TR200 submarine," Thyssen-Nordseewerke,; "Class TR300 submarine," Thyssen-Nordseewerke,
[35] "Consortia and partnerships of the German shipbuilding industry," Naval Forces, 1997, Vol. 18, No. 4, pp. 66; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,
[36] Derek Wollner, "Procuring change: how Kockums was selected for the Collins class submarine," Research paper No. 3, 2001-2002, Information and Research Services, Department of the Parliamentary Library,
[37] Werner Schrottelndreyer, "Prospects of naval shipbuilding in Germany," Naval Forces, 2002, Vol. 23, pp. 65-70; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,
[38] Wolfgang Legien, "German naval industry," Naval Forces, 2001, Vol. 22, No. 6, pp. 29-33; in ProQuest Information and Learning Company,

September 28, 2015
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The submarine proliferation resource collection is designed to highlight global trends in the sale and acquisition of diesel- and nuclear-powered submarines. It is structured on a country-by-country basis, with each country profile consisting of information on capabilities, imports and exports.


This material is produced independently for NTI by the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of and has not been independently verified by NTI or its directors, officers, employees, or agents. Copyright 2017.