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Type 209 submarine

The German Type 209 diesel-electric submarine was the most popular export-sales submarine in the world from the late 1960s into the first years of the 21st century.

In 1967, the Kieler Howaldtswerke shipyard (now Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG) signed a contract for the delivery of four submarines of approximately 1000 tons displacement to the Royal Hellenic Navy. That contract was the first of many for what the German Ministry of Defence designated "Type 209" and became the most frequently constructed non-nuclear submarine class of the West.

By the early 1970s, many navies found themselves needing to replace their pre-war submarines and those won by the Allied forces after World War II. Orders were received in 1969 from Argentina, 1970 from Peru and Colombia, 1971 from Turkey, and 1972 from Venezuela.

The design of this submarine was initially based on those built for the Volksmarine. The single hull construction was simply laid out -- an officer to standing at the periscope could see along the entire submarine from the torpedo tubes in the bow to the aft end of the engine room. Below the single deck, large battery rooms totalled about 25% of the total displacement of the boat. The low-speed 5000-horsepower electric motor was directly attached to the shaft (without reduction gears) and could drive the boat at more than 20 knots.

The design grew as the subs were assigned to more diverse missions. The propulsion system, initially equipped with suction diesel engines, switched to supercharged engines with notably increased performance. As orders were received with mission profiles including operations in the Caribbean or Southeast Asian waters, it became necessary to develop and install adequate air-conditioning facilities for crew and electronics. Depending on the specific requirements ordered by different customers, the size of the submarines increased from the original 1000t displacement and in some cases by as much as 50%. The additional size and space were needed to accommodate increases in range, crew living quarters, more electronic equipment and in some instances increased diving depth. Battery capacity was improved in both low and high power usage, resulting in submerged range and maximum speed being retained in spite of increases in hull size and displacement. The various modifications of the Type 209 are known by their (rounded off) displacement; see the table below for examples.

The Type 209 will begin to be replaced by the new Type 212 submarine after it enters service with the German navy in September 2003 and with the Italian navy in October 2004.

Type 209 users include

General Characteristics

Type: 209/1100209/1200209/1400
Surface Displacement: 1105 tons1180 tons1454 tons
Submerged Displacement: 1230 tons1290 tons1586 tons
Length: 54.4 meters55.9 meters62 meters
Hull Diameter: 6.2 meters6.2 meters6.2 meters
Engine Power: 1760 kilowatts1760 kilowatts2800 kilowatts
Surface Speed: 11 knots11 knots15 knots
Submerged Speed: 21.5 knots21.5 knots22 knots
Torpedoes: 141414
Crew: 313330
Torpedo tubes: 8×553mm
Submerged Range: 20 nm at 20 knots, 400 nm at 4 knots
Snorkel Range: 8000 nm at 10 knots
Surfaced Range: 10,000 nm at 10 knots
Mission Endurance: 50 days
Maximum Depth: 500 meters