U 212 CD, the next Norwegian submarine, but what for? (2/2)

U 212 CD, the next Norwegian submarine, yes but what for? (2/2)

The « deep waters » option

Basically different are the conditions traditionally met by the French or British submariners, attached to the deep blue waters of the Med or to the Atlantic and Norwegian areas. There, great distances command, as well as very rough seas, variable bathy conditions and, again, great and variable depths. There, silence is more than safety and a key to success!

The Royal Navy UK submarines are all of nuclear type since the 4 Upholders were laid up 33 years ago. SSBNS and SSNs greatly depend on US technology while the shipbuilding industry seems to give it up with the submarines export market, just focusing on national needs.

The French submarines took and still take the benefit of heavy Government investments to develop submarines technologies for ocean going boats. This started 60 years ago, when General De Gaulle decided to base the French National Defence on nuclear submarines capable of underwater ICBMs launching.

For more than 40 years now, based on the experience gained by the French Navy SSBNs (3), and SSNs, following the late SSKs, in deterrence patrols, in NATO exercises or in multinational operations, the greatest efforts as regard research and budgets were made in the areas of radiated noise reduction and sonar systems passive detection capabilities. Also at the same time, an amount of research was dedicated by the French MOD to underwater missiles firing capabilities.

The result today is a high capability of producing and operating silent and enduring submarine platforms for the high seas. Some are powered with nuclear propulsion; some have conventional diesel electric propulsion, with or without an additional AIP.  Displacements range from 1 500 t to 15 000 t. All are deep diving and ocean going, with high detection, identification and kill capabilities including tactical missiles like the proven anti-ship sub Exocet SM 39 or the Scalp Naval slcm (submarine launched cruise missile).

Silence, long range sonar detection, undetectable firings of lethal weapons are the main strong points of a State investment over decades on advanced naval technologies. The French Navy and the French shipyards were quite favored to be placed on the trajectory of their National Nuclear Deterrence. Non deterrent SSNs, Emeraude then Barracuda class, made the best profit out of it, as well as SSKs, Agosta then Scorpène class.

In a similar way when the need came of Air Independent auxiliary propulsion (AIP) for non nuclear subs, DCNS could apply some nuclear related technologies, mastered over 40 years to produce various types of AIPs based on the principles of combustion chambers, now of fuel cells and apply the reliable safety construction standards in use for the nuclear onboard reactors.

The impossible hunt for Red octobers ?

Some thirty years ago, sort of a merciless war broke out between the submarines naval architects of the world:  “short and fat” against “long and thin”. In the first belligerent alliance were to be found those in search of the greatest number of weapon tubes and the minimum length to reduce the turning circle; those were mostly submariners of the coastal or shallow waters accepting short legs, not too much hydrodynamics minded, focusing on payload.

Slim and graceful figures dictated the religion of the second camp, passionately in love with hydrodynamic perfect lines, best suited to a discreet moving in the depth. They were people of the great oceans, of the long runs, kind of silence hunters. But one could laugh at their poor carriage of torpedo tubes: 4, against 8 in the opponent camp.

Just a glance at the attached table shall help how to consider the pros and cons in each party and understand the extent of trade-off and compromise that are imposed to a submarines designer. The finesse coefficient deserves to be looked at, as a quite reliable revealing of the tactical missions and capabilities of a submarine!

By selecting the U 212 German class, the Norwegian MOD made certainly the best choice of a coast guard submarine, while objectively giving up the ambition to extend its Navy control to the open Norwegian Sea and play a combined role with other friendly ocean going submariners, in the hunt for the new “Red Octobers”.

There is also a formal logic that makes great sense in the Norwegian choice of purchasing new submarines from Germany rather than France: Norwegian subs were always of German brand in the past 60 years and Germany is vital to the Norwegian missile manufacturer Kongsberg.


Note 1– SSK: conventional submarines (“submarine submarine killer”)

Note 2– SSN: nuclear attack submarines (nuclear propulsion, tactical weapons)

Note 3- SSBN: nuclear ballistic submarines (nuclear propulsion, nuclear weapons)


Long and Thin/Short and Fat

From the slim to the short-legs

Type Design  L (m)  B (m) D dived (t) L/B
Barracuda Fr         99,50          8,80 5300 11,31
Agosta 80 Fr         76,20          6,80 1980 11,21
Virginia US      114,80        10,36 7925 11,08
Los Angeles US      109,73        10,10 7124 10,86
Scorpène Fr         66,40          6,20 1711 10,71
U 214 Ge         65,00          6,30 1829 10,32
U 209/1400 Ge         62,00          6,20 1611 10,00
Agosta 70 Fr         67,60          6,80 1768 9,94
U 209/1500 Ge         64,40          6,50 1880 9,91
A 26 Sw         66,00          6,75 2000 9,78
Gotland Sw         60,40          6,20 1625 9,74
Rubis Fr         73,60          7,60 2713 9,68
Amur Ru         66,80          7,10 2693 9,41
Upholder UK         70,30          7,60 2494 9,25
Souryu Jap         84,00          9,10 4100 9,23
TR 1700 Ge         66,00          7,30 2300 9,04
U 209/1200 Ge         55,90          6,20 1306 9,02
Trafalgar UK         85,50          9,80 5292 8,72
Astute UK         97,00        11,27 7519 8,61
U 212 A Ge         57,10          7,00 1859 8,16
Walrus Nl         67,70          8,40 2845 8,06
Kilo Ru         73,80          9,90 3125 7,45

End of the chronicle.


 © DCNS. 

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