Type 206 submarine

The Type 206 is a class of diesel-electric submarines (Uboats) developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW). Its design is based on the preceding Type 205 submarine class. These small and agile submarines were built during the Cold War to operate in the shallow Baltic Sea and attack Warsaw Pact shipping in the event of military confrontation. The pressure hulls were built out of non-magnetic steel to counter the threat of magnetic naval mines and make detection with MAD sensors more difficult. The low emission profile allowed the submarines in exercises to intrude even into well-protected opposing forces such as carrier formations with their screen.[2]

U15 at Kiel Week 2007.
Class overview
Preceded by: Type 205 submarine
Succeeded by: Type 212 submarine
Subclasses: Gal-class submarine
Built: 19691975
In commission:
  • 19732011 (Germany)
  • 2012present (Colombia)
Building: 18
Completed: 18
Active: 2
Retired: 16
General characteristics
Type: Type 206A submarine
  • 456 tonnes (449 long tons), surfaced;
  • 500 tonnes (490 long tons), submerged
Length: 48.49 metres (159 ft 1 in)
Beam: 4.58 metres (15 ft 0 in)
Draft: 4.30 metres (14 ft 1 in)
Installed power:
  • 440 kilowatts (590 hp) (diesel)
  • 1,100 kilowatts (1,500 hp) (electric)
  • 10 knots (19 km/h; 12 mph), surfaced;
  • 17 knots (31 km/h; 20 mph), submerged
  • 4,500 nautical miles (8,300 km; 5,200 mi) at 6 knots (11 km/h; 6.9 mph), surfaced
  • 228 nautical miles (422 km; 262 mi) at 4 knots (7.4 km/h; 4.6 mph), submerged
Test depth: more than 200 m
Complement: 22
Sensors and
processing systems:
  • STN Atlas DBQS-21 (CSU83) submarine sonar
  • Thomson-CSF DUUX 2 passive rangefinder sonar
  • Safare VELOX sonar intercept
  • EDO-900 active mine avoidance sonar
  • Thomson-CSF Calypso II surveillance and navigation radar
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • Thomson-CSF DR-2000U ESM system
  • Thorn-EMI SARIE


Ten Type 205 submarines were constructed between 1962 and 1968 with hulls constructed of a new non-magnetic steel. The early boats, however, suffered from cracking due to stress corrosion and an urgent programme was initiated to develop a new steel which overcame these problems, which received much publicity at the time. The new high-strength, non-magnetic, austenitic steel has greater elasticity and good dynamic strength, and has proved very satisfactory in service, thoroughly overcoming the doubts that were raised by those early problems, although it has never been selected by IKL's many export customers and thus remains unique to German Navy submarines. Subsequently, the Type 206 was designed by Ingenieur Kontor Lübeck (IKL) in 1964–65 and a production order was placed on 7 June 1969 for eight from HDW in Kiel and ten from Nordseewerke in Emden.

Of the 18 submarines built for the Bundesmarine (West German Navy), 12 were modernized in the early 1990s and were re-designated as Type 206A; the others have been decommissioned. The current German Navy is starting to decommission some 206A vessels, with more of the new Type 212 submarines being commissioned. In June 2010 the Ministry of Defence announced that all six remaining vessels were to be retired from active service immediately and to be decommissioned by the end of 2010 to cut costs. There are no type 206 submarines left in active service with the German Navy.[3]

A slightly modified variant of the Type 206 (which includes the distinctive dome, or bulge, in the front of the boat), the Gal-class submarine for the Israeli Navy was built to Israeli specifications as the Vickers Type 540 in the UK rather than Germany for political reasons. Three such boats were built, the first being commissioned in 1976. When the Israeli navy received its new Dolphin-class submarines (also built by HDW), the Gals were retired. As of 2006, one had been scrapped and two had been sent to HDW in an attempt to find a buyer for them. When no buyer was found, one of the submarines was returned to Israel for display in the Clandestine Immigration and Naval Museum.


A major mid-life modernisation was conducted on twelve of these submarines, the boats concerned now being officially designated Type 206A. The work started in mid-1987 and completed in February 1992, being carried out by Nordseewerke, Emden; this upgrade includes:

The STN Atlas DBQS-21D sonar has been fitted, together with new periscopes, and a new weapon control system (LEWA). The ESM system has been replaced and GPS navigation installed. The rebuilt submarines are armed with new torpedoes (Seeaal), and the propulsion system has been comprehensively refurbished, and improvements have been made to the accommodation.

List of units

Name Call
Laid down Launched Commissioned Decommissioned Fate
S192 U13 DRDG 15 November 1969 28 September 1971 19 April 1973 26 March 1997 scrapped
S193 U14 DRDH 1 March 1970 1 February 1972 19 April 1973 26 March 1997 scrapped
S194 U15 DRDI 1 June 1970 15 June 1972 17 July 1974 14 December 2010
S195 U16 DRDJ 1 November 1970 29 August 1972 9 November 1973 3 March 2011 Sold to Colombia for spare parts
S196 U17 DRDK 1 October 1970 10 October 1972 28 November 1973 14 December 2010
S197 U18 DRDL 1 April 1971 31 October 1972 19 December 1973 3 March 2011 Sold to Colombia for spare parts
S198 U19 DRDM 5 January 1971 15 December 1972 9 November 1973 23 August 1998 was to be sold to Indonesia as Bramastra, scrapped
S199 U20 DRDN 3 September 1971 16 January 1973 24 May 1974 26 September 1996 was to be sold to Indonesia as Aluguro, scrapped
S170 U21 DRDO 15 April 1971 9 March 1973 16 August 1974 3 June 1998 was to be sold to Indonesia as Cundomani, scrapped
S171 U22 DRDP 18 November 1971 27 March 1973 26 July 1974 18 December 2008 scrapped
S172 U23 DRDQ 5 March 1972 25 May 1974 2 May 1975 3 March 2011 Sold to Colombia as ARC Intrépido [1]
S173 U24 DRDR 20 March 1972 26 June 1973 16 October 1974 31 March 2011 Sold to Colombia as ARC Indomable [1]
S174 U25 DRDS 1 July 1971 23 May 1973 14 June 1974 31 January 2008 currently for sale, https://www.vebeg.de/web/en/verkauf/browse.htm?DO_SUCHE=1&SUCH_KAT=18&SHOW_AUS=1926290
S175 U26 DRDT 14 July 1972 20 November 1973 13 March 1975 9 November 2005 scrapped
S176 U27 DRDU 1 October 1971 21 August 1973 16 October 1974 13 June 1996 scrapped
S177 U28 DRDV 4 October 1972 22 January 1974 18 December 1974 30 June 2004 scrapped
S178 U29 DRDW 10 January 1972 5 November 1973 27 November 1974 31 December 2006 scrapped
S179 U30 DRDX 5 December 1972 4 April 1974 13 March 1975 31 January 2007 scrapped


  • After its decommissioning, U21 had an ever-changing history: First it should have been sold to Indonesia as Cundamanik. These plans were abandoned and U21 would have been scrapped in Itzehoe, had HDW not taken it on for a planned company museum in Kiel. This museum did not materialise, and U21 was gifted to the city of Eckernförde and towed there. For a short time it operated as a tourist attraction/technology museum, but because of local politics it was sold for scrap and broken up.
  • U13, U14, U19 and U20 were also to be sold to Indonesia. Their names would have been Nagarongsang, Nagabanda, Bramastra and Alugoro.
  • February/March 2010 the U26, U28 and U30 were towed by Polish tug Ikar to 's-Gravendeel, Netherlands to be scrapped.[4]
  • U17 and U26 visited New York City for Fleet Week in 1992.


The Colombian Navy purchased four decommissioned Type 206A submarines to boost its submarine force.[5] Two submarines, named Intrépido (ex-U23) and Indomable (ex-U24) were commissioned into the Colombian Navy on 28 August 2012. Two submarines (ex-U16 and ex-U18) were acquired to be cannibalized for spare parts. On 5 December 2015, Intrépido and Indomable entered active service after a lengthy refit in Germany.[6]


  1. UBoote an Kolumbien übergeben
  2. Lutz Nohse, Eberhard Rössler, Moderne Küsten-Uboote, München 1972, ISBN 3-469-00390-4
  3. "Klasse 206 A aus der Fahrbereitschaft genommen". Deutsche Marine. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  4. Weekblad Schuttevaer of 20 March 2010
  5. "Colombia buys submarines in anti-drug war". 27 February 2012. Retrieved 29 May 2012.
  6. "Presidente Santos activó dos submarinos de la Armada Nacional". Retrieved 7 December 2015.


  • Karr, Hans (2014). Deutsche Uboote seit 1956 (in German). Stuttgart: Motorbuch. ISBN 9783613037083.

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