February 12, 2012:
Colombia is negotiating with Germany to buy up to six recently retired Type 206A coastal submarines. The 206As are meant to be an inexpensive counter to new Russian Kilo subs being purchased by neighboring Venezuela. Colombia still has two older (1,200 ton) Type 209 subs and nine miniature subs. All are over three decades old, and so are the Type 206As. But the 206As have been better cared for and were updated in the 1990s. Colombia already has sailors with lots of experience on German submarines and the Type 206s can be obtained cheap. Exactly how cheap is currently under negotiation.
The Type 206 is a 450 ton sub built of special steel that makes the boat more difficult to detect. Top speed is 31 kilometers an hour submerged and 19 kilometers on the surface. These boats are armed with eight 533mm (21 inch) torpedoes, carried in eight torpedo tubes. The boat can also carry 24 mines externally. The crew of 23 can keep the boat at sea for five weeks. If there were a war with Venezuela (which has been acting very belligerent over the last few years), the Type 206s would be used to shut down Venezuelan ports and destroy oil facilities. Venezuela also has two 1970s era Type 209 subs, said to be in worse shape than their Colombian counterparts.