Submarines: June 25, 2003


Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (or HDW) is the largest shipyard in Germany, and the parent group of an international ship repair, engineering and logistics company employing 6600 people in Germany, Sweden and Greece. Profits have been falling for the past few years because of the economic slowdown in Europe. Particularly hard hit has been orders for submarines. Worse yet, debt has increased. HDW has been building subs for over a century, and resumed doing so in the 1960s after a post-World War II hiatus. Since then, HDW has built 91 subs, most of them (61), the highly successful Type 209 diesel-electric boats. But the new Type 212 and 214 are the future of HDWs submarine construction efforts. These boats have AIP (an air-independent propulsion system based on hydrogen and fuel cells, which allow the boat to cruise submerged for weeks.) Currently, the United States is trying to get the German government to change its policy towards arms sales to Taiwan, so the U.S. can finance the building of eight Type 214 subs for Taiwan. To further muddy the water, in March, 2002, an American bank bought a controlling (75 percent) interest in HDW for $844 million. The German government is under a lot of pressure from HDWs employees, who see further job loss if they don't get the Taiwan contract. Some fear that the American ownership of HDW might see the companies submarine building technology, and jobs, transferred to the United States. While no American shipyard has built a non-nuclear sub in 40 years, current HDW sub technology is seen as a major threat to American nuclear subs, if a hostile nation got their hands on an HDW sub design. German law also prohibits the export of submarine parts without government permission. But the technology is another matter, it is something that can be taken out of the country on a CD, or emailed in less than an hour. Recognizing this, Taiwanese shipbuilders are now lobbying for some of the Type 214 construction to be done in Taiwan. All of this puts more pressure on the German government to do something, for to do nothing, they could lose their submarine building industry.


Article Archive

Submarines: Current 2020 2019 2018 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013 2012 2011 2010 2009 2008 2007 2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000 1999 



Help Keep Us Soaring

We need your help! Our subscription base has slowly been dwindling. We need your help in reversing that trend. We would like to add 20 new subscribers this month.

Each month we count on your subscriptions or contributions. You can support us in the following ways:

  1. Make sure you spread the word about us. Two ways to do that are to like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.
  2. Subscribe to our daily newsletter. We’ll send the news to your email box, and you don’t have to come to the site unless you want to read columns or see photos.
  3. You can contribute to the health of StrategyPage. A contribution is not a donation that you can deduct at tax time, but a form of crowdfunding. We store none of your information when you contribute..
Subscribe   Contribute   Close