The German Type 212 is a highly advanced design of non-nuclear U-Boat developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW) for the German Navy.

It features diesel propulsion with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using Siemens polymer electrolyte module (PEM) hydrogen fuel cells.



The submarine 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 no exhaust heat. The system is also said to be vibration-free, extremely quiet and virtually undetectable.

Type 212 is the first of the only two fuel cell propulsion system equipped submarines ready for series production by 2007, the other being the Project 677 Lada class submarine designed by Russian Rubin Design Bureau.

The German government placed an initial order of four Type 212 submarines in 1998. Because of significant updates to the design, the designation was changed to Type 212A. The German Submarine Consortium built them at the shipyards of HDW and Thyssen Nordseewerke GmbH (TNSW) of Emden.

Different sections of the submarines were constructed at both sites at the same time and then half of them were shipped to the respective other yard so that both HDW and Thyssen Nordseewerke assembled two complete submarines each. The German Navy ordered two additional, improved submarines in 2006, to be delivered from 2012 on.

They will be 1.2 metres longer to give additional space for a new reconnaissance mast.

Salvatore Todaro, a Type 212A built by Fincantieri for the Marina Militare (Italian Navy), was commissioned in March 2006, and her sister Sciré was commissioned in February 2007. Two more Italian Type 212As are planned.

TYPE 212A CLASS Specifications
Country of Manufacture Germany
Number in Service Four with Germany and two with Italy
Crew 27
Armament 6 x 533mm torpedo tubes
Length 56m
Beam 6.8m
Draught 6.4m
Displacement 1,830 tons submerged
Powerplant One 3.12MW diesel engine coupled to a single electric motor
Performance Speed 20 knots, range 8,000nm surfaced
First of Class 2002