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The Type 206 is a class of diesel-electric submarines (U-boats) developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche-Werft AGmarker (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 Seamarker and attack Warsaw Pact shipping if the war turned hot. 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.


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 a lot of publicity at the time. The new highstrength, non-magnetic, austenitic steel has greater elasticity and good dynamic strength, and has proved verysatisfactory 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 IKL in 1964-65 and a production order was placed on 7 June 1969 for eight from Howaldtswerke Deutsche Werft (HDW) in Kiel and ten from Rheinstahl 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.

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 UKmarker rather than Germany for political reasons. Three such boats were built, the first one 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 Haifamarker 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 Thyssen Nordseewerke, Emden.

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 a 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 boats

Name Call
Laid down Launched Com-
S192 U13 DRDG April 19, 1973 September 23, 1997 scrapped
S193 U14 DRDH April 19, 1973 September 23, 1997 scrapped
S194 U15 DRDI June 1970 June 1972 July 17, 1974
S195 U16 DRDJ November 1970 August 1972 November 9, 1973
S196 U17 DRDK October 1970 October 1972 November 28, 1973
S197 U18 DRDL April 1971 October 1972 December 19, 1973
S198 U19 DRDM November 9, 1973 August 23, 1998 scrapped
S199 U20 DRDN May 24, 1974 September 26, 1996 scrapped
S170 U21 DRDO August 16, 1974 June 3, 1998 scrapped
S171 U22 DRDP November 1971 March 1973 July 26, 1974 December 18, 2008
S172 U23 DRDQ March 1972 May 1973 May 2, 1975
S173 U24 DRDR March 1972 June 1973 October 16, 1974
S174 U25 DRDS July 1971 May 1973 April 19, 1973 January 31, 2008
S175 U26 DRDT July 1972 November 1973 March 13, 1975 November 9, 2005
S176 U27 DRDU October 16, 1974 June 13, 1996 scrapped
S177 U28 DRDV October 1972 January 1974 December 18, 1974 June 30, 2004
S178 U29 DRDW January 1972 November 1973 November 27, 1974 December 31, 2006
S179 U30 DRDX December 1972 April 1974 March 13, 1975 January 31, 2007

  • After its decommissioning, U21 had an ever-changing history: First it should have been sold to Indonesiamarker as Cundomani. After the deal failed it was about to be scrapped in Itzehoemarker, but HDW managed to salvage it for the planned companies museum in Kielmarker. After that had to be given up, U21 was gifted to the city of Eckernfördemarker and towed there. For a short time it had been a well accepted 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 Indonesiamarker. Their names would have been Nagarongsang, Nagabanda, Bramastra and Alugoro.
  • The six surviving submarines are all upgraded Type 206A ones.

See also


  • Jane's Major Warships 2003

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