Trisha Shetty (Editor)

Type 209 submarine

Updated on
Share on FacebookTweet on TwitterShare on LinkedInShare on Reddit
Operators  See below
Succeeded by  Type 214 submarine
Planned  64
Preceded by  Type 206 submarine
In commission  1971-present
Type 209 submarine
Builders  Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft Nordseewerke Arsenal de Marinha Mazagon Dock Limited Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Gölcük Naval Shipyard

The Type 209 is a class of diesel-electric attack submarine developed exclusively for export by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft of Germany. The original variant (Type 209/1100) was designed in the late 1960s. Despite not being operated by the German Navy, five variants of the class (209/1100, 209/1200, 209/1300, 209/1400 and 209/1500) have been successfully exported to 13 countries, with 61 submarines being built and commissioned between 1971 and 2008.



In the early 1970s, many navies began to need replacements for WWII-era submarines, aging United States GUPPY conversions, and British units transferred postwar. During this time, few western submarine designs were available for export as most were large, expensive, sophisticated and difficult to operate and designed for the Cold War. Several designs originally built for specific nations were available including the French Daphne Class, British Oberon Class, and the Soviet Foxtrot Class submarines. The design, designated by the German Ministry of Defense as the “Type 209” provided a solution providing the combination of size, performance, relative ease of operation for small or inexperienced navies, reasonable price and economy of operation.


The submarine was designed by Ingenieur Kontor Lübeck (IKL) headed by Ulrich Gabler and is largely based on previous German submarine designs (in particular the Type 206) with increased equipment. The design is single hulled and allows the commanding officer to see the entire submarine from the bow to stern while standing at the periscope. Four 120-cell batteries are located forward and aft of the command center in the lower deck and make up about 25% of the boat's displacement. Two main ballast tanks with forward and aft trim tanks allow the boat to dive. They are powered by four MTU diesels and four AEG generators. The AEG electric motor is attached directly to a five- or seven-bladed propeller.


Type 209 submarines are armed with 8 bow 533 mm torpedo tubes and 14 torpedoes. The Type 209/1200s used by Greece and South Korea, and the Type 209/1400s used by Turkey are also armed with Sub-Harpoon missiles. Ships used by South Korea can be armed with 28 mines in place of torpedoes and Harpoon missiles; while the Indian ships can carry 24 mines externally.

The class can be armed with a variety of torpedo models depending upon the country. The majority of boats carry SUT - Surface and Underwater Target (Greece, India, Indonesia, South Africa, South Korea) or the SST - Special Surface Target (Argentina, Peru, Turkey's 209/1200s, Venezuela) torpedoes. The boats can also carry the Mark 24 Tigerfish (Brazil, Turkey's Preveze class 209/1400), DM2A3 (Colombia), Blackshark (Chile), A184 mod. 3 (Ecuador), DM2A4 (Turkey's Gür class 209/1400) and Mark 37 (Argentina).

Brazil’s boats will receive new integrated combat systems from Lockheed Martin to enable use of the Mark 48 torpedo. Successful tests of the new combat system occurred on Tapajó S-33 in December 2011.


Five variants of this submarine have been produced: Type 209/1100, Type 209/1200, Type 209/1300, Type 209/1400 and Type 209/1500. The U-209PN ordered by the Portuguese Navy is actually a Type 214. The first three Dolphin class submarines built for the Israeli Navy are based on the Type 209 although heavily modified and enlarged.

Several modifications have occurred in the class resulting in these variants including the fitting of newer diesel engines. New air conditioning and electronics features have been added to accommodate orders from South America. The displacement in some variants has increased by nearly 50% in order to install new equipment, modernize accommodations, and extend range.

The team of Ingenieur Kontor Lübeck (IKL) and Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW) proposed an enlarged Type 209 submarine, the Type 2000, for the Collins class submarine program. The proposed design was roughly 500 tons more than the Type 209/1500's for India and lost to the Type 471 from Kockums, an enlarged Västergötland class submarine.

The Thomson class built for the Chilean Navy has escape hatches fitted in the torpedo and engine room. An additional aft hatch is fitted in the sail with access to the machinery. The boats are fitted with higher masts to compensate for regional ocean wave conditions.

The Tikuna class built by the Brazilian navy is a modified Type 209/1400. The boat is 0.85 m longer and fitted with higher power diesels, different electric motors, batteries, electronics and sensors.

The Shishumar class built for and by India is unique for having an IKL-designed integrated escape sphere. The sphere has accommodations for the entire crew with an eight-hour air supply.

The Sabalo class built for Venezuela was slightly lengthened during a modernization at HDW in the early 1990s. The increased length is due to the addition of a new sonar dome that is similar to the model found on the German Type 206.

Between 2004 and 2006, the Indonesian Type 209/1300 submarine Cakra underwent a refurbishment by Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering in South Korea. The refurbished submarine featured new batteries, overhauled engines, and modernized combat system. Both submarines' existing STN Atlas-Elektronik CSU 3-2 sonar suite were replaced with L-3 ELAC Nautik's LOPAS 8300 passive sonar system and Kongsberg MSI-90U MK2 CMS. In 2009, Daewoo won another order to refurbish Nanggala, which was completed in early 2012.

It is also possible to upgrade these submarines with the latest Air-independent propulsion (AIP) systems. The first ships to receive this upgrade were to be three ships of the Greek Poseidon class Type 209/1200 under the Neptune II upgrade program. They were to be upgraded by cutting the boat in half aft of the control room and adding a 6 m plug with an 120 kW Siemens AIP system to the ship. The program was canceled in 2009 due to cancellation of the Archimedes Project (Type 214), but not before Okeanos (S118) completed the upgrade. After the Archimedes Project settlement was reached, it was decided that instead of upgrading the remaining two Type 209s, two additional Type 214 ships were to be ordered, but that deal was cancelled by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft.

Chang Bogo upgrades/variant

The South Korean Chang Bogo-class submarines (Hangul: 장보고급 잠수함, Hanja: 張保皐級潛水艦) have reportedly been heavily upgraded in the 21st century, which if undertaken was supposed to include domestic hull stretch augmentation from 1,200 tons to 1,400 tons and installment of domestically developed Torpedo Acoustic Counter Measures (TACM). Some upgrades could have been affected or altered due to Korean economic problems of the late 1990s, which modified other plans to acquire nine 1,500-ton AIP-equipped boats or upgrade six 1200 boats to 1,500-tons AIP-equipped boats, although the more ambitious plan to acquire nine 1,800-ton Type 214 AIP submarines was preserved and put under progress, not unaided by the quick recovery of the South Korean economy in 1999, which will reportedly be wrapped up in 2018 when all submarines of the type are scheduled to be commissioned. LIG Nex1 began producing TACM for unspecified submarine types of the ROKN as well, which finished development in 2000. Outfitting of the submarines with Sub-Harpoon launching capability was a part of the upgrade, and seems to have been carried out on several submarines by 2008. They can equip the White Shark heavy torpedo, and can possibly equip submarine-launched Hae Sung anti-ship missiles later on. AIP and flank-array sonars are planned for future modernizations.

In December 2011, Daewoo won a contract to build Indonesia three 1,400-ton Chang Bogo-class submarines for $1.07 billion. Construction of the submarines will start in January 2012 for delivery by 2015 and 2016, for commissioning in the first half of 2018. They'll be equipped with torpedoes and guided missiles. The submarines are described to be Korea's original model, bigger and more advanced than Indonesia's refurbished Type 209/1300. Initially the offered submarines were going to be in-service ROKN submarines. The sale will be done without the involvement of German companies. South Korea is currently the only country outside Germany independently offering the Type 209 for sale. Indonesia was also offered two license built Type 209 submarines manufactured by a group of Turkish (SSM - Undersecretariat for Defense Industries) and German companies (HDW/ThyssenKrupp), a deal reported to be valued at $1 billion. SSM was also offering the leases of Type 209 submarines until new submarines could be completed. The offer has since been superseded by the DSME submarine contract. The three new submarines would be equipped with the Kongsberg MSI-90U MK2 combat systems, Indra's Pegaso RESM system and Aries-S LPI radar.


Countries operating the Type 209 include Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Greece, India, Indonesia, Peru, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and Venezuela. All Type 209s remain in service except for ARA San Luis (S-32) which was stricken in 1997 after an incomplete overhaul and Glavkos S-110 decommissioned in 2011. Iran had an order for six Type-209 submarines that was cancelled by Khomeini in 1979.

The first user was the Hellenic Navy which purchased four Type 209/1100 and four Type 209/1200 submarines.

The largest operator of the Type 209 is the Turkish Navy which operates six Type 209/1200 submarines (commissioned between 1976 and 1989) and eight Type 209/1400 submarines (commissioned between 1994 and 2007). At present, the Turkish Navy is also the largest operator of German designed submarines in the world.

Three new Type 209/1400 submarines were delivered to South Africa in 2006, costing $285 million each.

Type 209s are often supplemented with other submarine designs or are scheduled to be replaced by them. Argentina received two TR-1700 class submarines (Santa Cruz class) during the 1980s. Ten Kilo class submarines were purchased by India in the 1980s and 90s (Sindhughosh class submarine), along with Akula class submarine INS Chakra in 2011. Two Scorpène class submarines have been commissioned by Chile, while Brazil has four and India has six ships ordered or under construction. Nine Type 214 submarines (Son Won-il class) are commissioned, building, or planned by South Korea to supplement its force, while Greece is replacing its aging Glaukos class with four Type 214 submarines (Papanikolis class), and Turkey will be replacing early Atılay class ships with six Type 214 submarines.

During the Falklands War the Argentinian Type 209/1200 submarine "San Luis" performed a war patrol. While on their way to the area assigned the fire control computer went out of order. The vessel continued on to the combat area, and managed to fire at least 3 wire guided SST-4 mod0 torpedoes at the British fleet. The torpedoes suffered from various issues, with the guide wire cut a minute after launch and the torpedoes going off the assigned course. After the war testing revealed that the torpedoes' electric gyroscopes had reversed polarity, which resulted in a complete refit of the entire Argentinean torpedo stock, and a conversion of a portion of this stock from Mod0 to Mod1, performed by the firm which produced these weapons (AEG). Beside the torpedo issue, "San Luis" patrolled mostly undetected.

Egypt initially ordered two Type-209/1400 submarines in 2011 and later ordered two more in 2014. The Egyptian Navy officially received its first submarine (S41) in Kiel, on 12 December 2016, a year after the shipbuilder ThyssenKrupp Marine Systems (TKMS) announced the launch of the vessel. The second submarine (S42) was launched on the same day during a naming ceremony.


Type 209 submarine Wikipedia