The Heroine class are a variant of the Type 209 diesel-electric attack submarine developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) of Germany, currently in service with the South African Navy.
South Africa placed a contract for three Type 209 1400-Mod submarines in July 2000 on Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) and Thyssen Nordseewerke. The Type 209 1400-Mod boats displace 1,450t surfaced and 1,600t dived. The Type 209 1400-Mod submarines replace the French-built Daphné class submarines, SAS Spear, SAS Assegaai and SAS Umkhonto which were decommissioned in 2003. The Heroine class are sometimes considered to be South Africa's first "true" submarines, as they were more suited to being underwater than the Daphné models.
The first submarine, SAS Manthatisi (S101), was built by Howaldtswerke at Kiel. It was launched in June 2004 and commissioned in November 2005. The second and third submarines were built by Thyssen Nordseewerke in Emden. The SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102) was launched in May 2005 and commissioned in March 2007. The third submarine, SAS Queen Modjadji (S103), was launched in 2006 and handed over in February 2008.
The submarines' homeport is Simon's Town naval base near Cape Town.
The submarines are named after powerful South African women. SAS Manthatisi (S101) is named after the female warrior chief of the Batlokwa tribe. SAS Charlotte Maxeke (S102) is named after the female political activist Charlotte Maxeke, who campaigned for equality in the early 20th century. SAS Queen Modjadji (S103) is named after the South African Rain Queen.
The submarine has a crew of 30. The hull has a length of 62m, breadth of 7.6m and height of 5.8m. It has an approximate maximum diving depth of 500 meters.
The Type 209/1400 submarine has a maximum speed of 10 kn (19 km/h) surfaced and 22 kn (41 km/h) dived.
The Atlas Elektronik ISUS 90-45 integrated combat information system provides navigation, automatic sensor integration and management as well as fire control functions for the submarine.
There are eight 533 mm bow torpedo tubes and the submarine can carry up to 14 torpedoes. The SA Navy have acquired Atlas Elektronik SUT 264 torpedoes for these submarines.
The submarine is fitted with two periscopes, a conventional, hull-penetrating SERO 400 attack periscope and a non-hull-penetrating OMS 100 optronic mast (search periscope), both supplied by Carl Zeiss (now Cassidian) Optronics.
The OMS-100 mast integrates an optronic sensor with a high-definition resolution colour TV camera and third generation thermal imager. The cameras are gyroscopically stabilised in elevation and azimuth. The sensor assembly is installed in a retractable unit outside the pressure hull of the submarine. The observation and operation of the mast are controlled on a console. The optronics mast system contains fully automatic functions for very fast surveillance and observation so the period of mast exposure above the surface is extremely short.
The surface search radar operates at I-band.
The Atlas Elektronik CSU 90 sonar suite includes hull-mounted passive and active search-and-attack, flank array and active intercept sonar arrays, as well as an own noise monitoring system. South Africa did not exercise the option of purchasing a 'clip-on' towed array sonar based on advice from existing users that the system is clumsy and would prove impractical in South Africa's envisaged operational context.
The submarine is equipped with a Saab Grintek Avionics UME-100 ESM/Designated ELINT system. The antennae for the system are integrated into the mastheads of both the SERO 400 and OMS-100 periscopes.
The submarine's ELINT electronic intelligence system is the Saab S/UME-100 tactical electronic support measures which provides electronic intelligence analysis and amplitude direction finding capability.
The S/UME-100 comprises the ESM antenna, the radar warning receiver antenna, a signal distribution unit and an electronic warfare controller.
The S/UME-100 tactical ESM antennas interface to the optronics mast and attack periscope.
It is believed that the submarines are fitted with the CIRCE torpedo counter-measure ejector system.
The submarines are fitted with a diesel electric propulsion system based on four MTU 12V 396 diesel engines delivering 2.8MW, with four alternators and one Siemens 3.7MW motor, driving a single shaft.
In 2008, the Sunday Times reported that Ferrostaal allegedly gave former president Thabo Mbeki R30 million in bribes, some of which was allegedly shared with current president Jacob Zuma. An internal audit of Ferrostaal by American-based law firm Debevoise and Plimpton, who was hired after the German Public Prosecutions Authority arrested of one of its board members in 2010, reportedly places the amount paid in bribes at R300 million, or over $40 million. The report was not publicly released, but Germany's Süddeutsche Zeitung reported that it had obtained a copy.