Port Security Conference

April 7, 2003

U 31--First fuel cell propelled submarine

Fuel cell sub starts maiden voyage
The world’s first submarine with a fuel cell propulsion system started its maiden voyage today.

U 31, the first of four 212 A Class submarines to be delivered to the German Navy, is now beginning its sea trials in the Baltic Sea following extensive port tests at the construction yard, Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG, Kiel.

In an initial phase from Kiel, U 31 will undertake shallow water trials in the western part of the Baltic Sea. The entire marine engineering system and operation is to be checked on. Aside from the crew, both shipyard and supplier staff as well as inspection personnel of the German Office for Defense Technology & Procurement (BWB) will be on board.

The other half of the trials mainly revolves around deep-water trials. It is expected that U 31 will be leaving home waters for the first time at the end of July 2003, heading for Norway.

The main ports of call will be Kristiansand, Stavanger and Bergen, with assistance being given by the Norwegian Navy through its facilities. Acoustics, sonar and the fire control system (FüWES) will be tested during the depth diving trials, preferably in the Skagerak. And the first practice torpedoes are to be fired as well.

With the trials over, U 31 will return to Kiel in mid-March 2004 for any remaining work to be dealt with in the yard. The submarine will then be commissioned by the German Navy.

The new submarine class developed by HDW features air-independent propulsion based on a hydrogen fuel cell. HDW thus becomes the world's first company to deliver a production-stage fuel cell propulsion system that enables the boat to operate submerged for several weeks at a time. Moreover, as the boat neither generates any noise nor heat from exhaust fumes it is virtually undetectable.

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