The Most Experienced U-Boat Builders in the World: Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft and the German Type 212A U-Boat

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The Type 212A U-Boat is the latest submarine built by Germany and is the most advanced non-nuclear type in the world. It was designed and built by a long time supplier of U-Boats to the German Navy, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft in Kiel. On their company website, HDW proclaims: “Virtually no shipyard the world over has more experience in the design and construction of non-nuclear submarines.”

I guess not. During World War Two, the Deutsche Werft shipyard in Kiel built 69 U-Boats for the Kriegsmarine while Howaldtswerke yard in Kiel built 31 U-Boats. (Both shipbuilders had yards in Hamburg which also constructed U-Boats.)
These two companies merged in 1968. Howaldtswerke, founded in 1838, built U-Boats for the Imperial German Navy as well as the Kriegsmarine. Now that’s experience.

HDW Shipyard in Kiel in World War Two building U-Boats

The Type 212A boat is the quietest non-nuke ever built and one of the reasons is the use of hydrogen fuel cells as a power supply. What this means is the boat has a propulsion system with no moving parts, no readable heat signature, and no exhaust other than water. The hydrogen fuel cells also enable the U-Boat to “run silent, run deep” for up to three weeks with a speed up to 20 knots.

Here is a video discussing many aspects of the Type 212A U-Boat:

[Image courtesy of HDW.]

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Charles McCain

Charles McCain is a Washington DC based freelance journalist and novelist. He is the author of "An Honorable German," a World War Two naval epic. You can read more of his work on his website:

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