SUBMARINE "Springeren"  

Return to home-page


Return to aircraft and ships


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”
“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 Vice-admiral Garde.

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 while submerged.

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 design, T-613.

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 service.

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 Norway, of course her name was “Solveig”.


Technical specifications Submarine "Springeren"


Pennant number: S 324 - Call sign: OUCK - Launched: 20 February 1964 - Commissioned in Denmark: 17 October 1991 - Decommissioned: 25 November 2004 - Built by: Rheinstahl-Norsdeewerke, Germany - Deplacement: 370 t surfaced, 435 t submerged - Length: 47,2 m - Beam 4,6 m - Complement: 24 crew - Propulsion: 2 diesel engines MTU each 600 hp plus 1 Siemens electromotor 1.700 hp - Range: 5.000 sea miles (9.260 km) - Maximum speed: 10 knots (18.520 km/hr) surfaced - 17 knots (31.484 km/hr) submerged - Armament: 8 torpedo tubes (type TP613). 


Click to enlarge


Top of page