German Submarine U-33 Concludes Baltic Sea Deployment Under NATO Command

The German Navy Type 212A submarine, U-33 (S183) has just concluded a several-week-long assurance measure deployment under NATO command in the Eastern Baltic Sea.

The submarine arrived back to the naval base and home port of Eckernförde on Monday, May 25. The submarine, under the leadership of Lieutenant Commander Tobias Eikermann, in the past few weeks has operated under NATO Maritime Command (MARCOM).

German submarine U-33
German Navy Type 212 submarine U-33 (S183) returns to home port of Eckernförde, Germany on May 25, 2020. Photo: German Navy.

The patrol was part of the NATO Assurance Measures focused on monitoring the activities of the Russian fleet. U-33 is one of the first German submarines detached to MARCOM for this purpose in the Baltic Sea.

Assurance measures are a sign of the Alliance’s cohesion internally and of its strength and readiness externally; they are a pillar of the NATO Readiness Action Plan going back to the 2014 Wales Summit, where the Allies agreed to increase their presence at NATO’s eastern flank.

“Submarines are a key part of the NATO strategic maritime plan,” said Rear Admiral Andrew Burcher, Commander NATO Submarines. “Deployments like this contribute substantially to sustained assurance measures. We need to ensure that we are capable and ready to defend and protect”.

U-33 (S183) is the third Type 212A conventional AIP attack submarine of the German Navy developed by Germany’s HDW (Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, now part of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, TKMS).

The boat was laid down 30 April 2001 by HDW (Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, now part of TKMS) in Kiel, launched in September 2004 and commissioned on 13 June 2006. She is assigned to the German Navy’s 1st Submarine Squadron (1st Ubootgeschwader), based in Eckernförde.

On April 28, the submarine entered into a dry dock at ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems’ shipyard in Kiel to repair a leak on a torpedo tube.

Type 212 class SSK

The Type 212 class, called Todaro class in Italian Navy service, is a class of highly advanced non-nuclear/conventional submarines (SSK) developed by Germany’s HDW (Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft, now part of ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems, TKMS) for the German and Italian navies.

The submarines feature diesel propulsion and an additional air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using Siemens proton exchange membrane (PEM) compressed hydrogen fuel cells. Type 212 is the first fuel cell propulsion system equipped submarine series.

The boats can operate at high speed on diesel power or switch to the AIP system for silent slow cruising, staying submerged for up to three weeks without surfacing and with little exhaust heat. The system is also said to be vibration-free, extremely quiet, and virtually undetectable.

The German Navy operates six Type 212A submarines and the Italian Navy operates four Todaro class submarines. Germany plans to procure two more Type 212 boats and Italy plans to procure/ordered four more Todaro class boats.

Norway’s Royal Norwegian Navy (RNoN) is also in the process of acquiring four Type 212 submarines. These boats will be similar in configuration with the two additional units being procured by Germany. The submarines, dubbed Type 212 Common Design (CD) variant, will combine the low signatures of the Type 212A with extended range, speed and endurance to allow worldwide operations.

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