This was the last submarine in
service with the Danish navy. In 2004, the Danish parliament,
"Folketinget" decided to phase-out the submarine service,
decommissioning all available submarines and transferring their
crews to other services. This political
decision meant the end of an era in Danish
naval history: the first Danish submarine was purchased in 1909.
In 2004, the submarine service had three units of the
so-called “Tumleren” class, called "Tumleren (Purpoise),
“Sælen” (Seal) and “Springeren” (Jumper) as well as an
advanced Swedish submarine Kronborg”, which was leased from
Sweden. Tumleren was sold for scrapping in September
1992 and Kronborg was returned to Sweden, whereas Sælen was
handed over to the Royal Danish War museum/Tøjhusmuseet in
December 2004. Thanks to an appeal to the Ministry of
Defence, Springeren was donated to the Museum Langelandsfort.
Three torpedoes, which were presented by the
torpedo-workshop of the naval base at Frederikshavn, are
exhibited alongside the submarine.
Thanks to financial support from Fyns amt,
Sydlangeland commune, the Danish state, the E.U. and some
private funds, is was possible to have the 500 ton submarine
towed from Frederikshavn to Bagenkop, where it was hoisted
onto dry land by a floating crane and then transport it to its
future place at the fort (see illustrations).
As far as submarines are concerned, Springeren is a rather old one. It was built in 1964 by the
Rheinstahl-Nordseewerke in Emden, Germany, for the Norwegian
Navy. It belonged to the Norwegian “Kobben”-class, named
after the first boat of that class (in Norwegian, Kobben
means Seal). In total, 15 submarines were built, with the financial
support of the United States of America. One of the boats was baptized “Kya”.
It served Norway until 1985. That same year, Denmark decided to
purchase some Norwegian submarines, supplementing their already
existing Danish submarines. Initially, three submarines of the
“Kobben” class were purchased. Later a fourth boat was added, to be
cannibalised for its spare-parts. As agreed with Norway, the three
Danish submarines as well as six Norwegian boats were first
lengthened by two meters and modernized at a Norwegian
shipyard. This whole operation took a long time. The first
Norwegian submarine was delivered to Denmark in October 1989, the
last one in October 1991. It
was this boat, the “Kya”, which was baptized “Springeren” by
But why did Denmark possess submarines in the first place?
Submarines played an important part in the cold war. The superpowers had
large, ocean going submarines which were capable of firing missiles with
nuclear warheads. They were important for maintaining the balance of
power; on the other hand, submarines were very effective for the quite
extensive espionage and intelligence-gathering work that was so typical
of that period. The Soviet submarine, which ran aground on the Swedish
coast, was proof positive of these intelligence-gathering tasks, which
the eastern block countries even performed against neutral countries
such as Sweden. But the western powers were no less interested in
keeping an eye on what went on in the East.
The Danish submarines were fully integrated in the NATO defences of
Denmark. Their peacetime duty was to keep a watchful eye on any fleet
activities in the Danish territorial waters. In wartime, they had to
report on and attack enemy fleet units during their advance. But the
Danish submarines were not designed for an offensive war. They were
small and therefore better suited for operations in the narrow waterways
of the North sea and the Baltic. With a draught of 3.7 meters, a large
part of the Danish inland waterways could not be entered by a submarine
The crews of these submarines consisted of 24 men: seven officers, six
petty-officers and eleven ratings. The control room was amidships and
allowed access to the conning-tower. This is where such activities as
navigation, manoeuvring and attack-control took place, as well as the
operation of the technical sensors such as radar, sonar and hydrophones,
which gave information about other ships on the surface. While
submerged, the periscope provided information about ship-movements on
the surface. A snorkel allowed the submarine to operate its diesel
generators while running just under the surface, drawing air through a
pipe in order to re-charge its batteries without having to surface.
While running on the surface, the conning-tower was occupied by a
look-out and a navigation-officer. In the bow of the submarine the
torpedo room with its eight torpedo tubes can be seen. Torpedoes were
the only weapons the submarine could rely on, apart from the hand-guns
of the crew. The radio-controlled torpedoes were of the latest Swedish
The main engines and generators, consisting of two 600 hp diesel engines
and one electric motor with 1.700 hp. are located in the rear of the
ship. The latter was used when the boat was submerged and was fed by
batteries, which were installed in the bottom of the vessel. The
batteries were re-charged by the diesel-generators. This submarine has a
five-bladed propeller, which allows for stable and silent propulsion.
While sailing on the surface, the submarine could only reach a maximum
speed of seven or eight knots, whereas it could reach speeds of
seventeen to twenty knots submerged. The average cruising speed while
submerged would be about 5.5 knots. The action radius while submerged,
with full diesel tanks, could be about 5000 sea miles. This represents
the distance from Denmark around Iceland and back. Steering is
accomplished both with the bow- and stern rudders.
Although there were a toilet and a shower on board, on longer voyages
the water consumption had to be rationed, which had a certain influence
on the crews. Submariners had a special reputation in thenavy, caused by the fact that, contrary to “normal” ships,
submarines usually operate independently for extended periods of
time. These boats were not fit for crews of a nervous disposition.
The narrow surroundings put a lot of pressure on the tolerance of
the crew. Running submerged, sometimes for weeks on end, required
strong nerves. Everybody on board had to be able to perform his task
perfectly, especially in critical situations. Among submarine-crews
the old motto of the musketeers prevailed “One for all and all for
one”. Each had to rely on the other, which formed a strong bond
between crew-members, who were proud to belong to the submarine
During the thirteen years of her service in the navy, Springeren participated in several NATO exercises.
In September 2000 Springeren made a short dive with Guests:
Queen Margarete and Prins Henrik. It is worth mentioning
that Springeren, while serving as Kya under Norwegian flag,
had the world’s first female commanding officer. And since it was in
course her name was “Solveig”.