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    Transit of U31 across the North Sea in a gale

    AMS member

    Posts : 105
    Join date : 2011-07-03
    Location : at home, near Bremen (Germany)

    Transit of U31 across the North Sea in a gale

    Post  Hermann on Wed Dec 02, 2015 7:55 pm

    Hello everyone,

    last week there was an interesting report in our TV about the submarine U31 on its transit from its base in Eckernfoerde at the Baltic sea to Plymouth to join some manoeuvres together with the Royal Navy. On the transit through the North Sea they got into a heavy gale. Unfortunately the report is in German only but the pictures speak for themselves. The submarine was commanded to do the transit surfaced but in that gale submerging in the shallow Waters of the North Sea wouldn't have provided much benefit to the Crew.


    That submarine is a member of the modern class 212A with AIP (Air independent propulsion) by a fuel cell system and just a giant brushless propulsion motor.

    Kind regards
    david f
    AMS Treasurer

    Posts : 1883
    Join date : 2010-11-10
    Age : 67
    Location : Cumbria

    Re: Transit of U31 across the North Sea in a gale

    Post  david f on Sat Dec 05, 2015 1:52 pm

    Hello Klaus-Dieter,

    I've just finished watching this very interesting programme.
    The commentary was slow enough to get some idea of what was being discussed, even with my rudimentary German.

    The submarine looks very good (and new?). The storm shots were most impressive and I was intrigued by the hanging bananas moving around and slowly turning browner!

    Many thanks for posting this.

    AMS member

    Posts : 105
    Join date : 2011-07-03
    Location : at home, near Bremen (Germany)

    Re: Transit of U31 across the North Sea in a gale

    Post  Hermann on Sat Dec 05, 2015 6:10 pm

    Hello David,

    yes, the submarine is relative new (S181/ U31 was the first of that class and commisioned in 2005). You can read a description on Wikipedia:


    Although in Wikipedia the submarine is described as having diesel propulsion it has in fact electric propulsion only. The propulsion motor is a big brushless permanent magnet synchonous electric motor that drives the Propeller. The electric energy derives from the main battery that can be (re-) charged or kept on charge  either by diesel generators (not air independant and for surfaced operation or snorkeling only) or by the fuel cell system that works even when submerged. Normally as it is cheaper they use diesel generator charging on transits like this as the oxygen and hydrogen for the fuel cell System is more expensive.

    The German class 212A submarines are built from stainless steel that is non magnetic so there is less danger from mines with magnetic ignition. As a welcome effect the stainless steel hulls are less sensitive to corrosion. The old class 206A submarines that were commissioned in the 1970ees were also from stainless steel and after nearly 40 years of service they were decommissioned mainly for economical reasons. Two of them were even sold for the navy of Columbia for further use.

    Kind regards
    Klaus-Dieter (Hermann)

    AMS member

    Posts : 49
    Join date : 2012-12-03
    Location : Loddon, Norfolk

    Re: Transit of U31 across the North Sea in a gale

    Post  Crossie on Sun Dec 06, 2015 12:26 pm

    Watching this boat rolling about in heavy weather in the North Sea, emphasises how terrible conditions must have been for sailors in boats such as the Type VII which apart from a more cluttered interior were around half the weight and had much less powerful drive systems to maintain course. A very interesting video.


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    Re: Transit of U31 across the North Sea in a gale

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