The modern Royal Norwegian Navy currently (2017) fields just one class of submarine, the Ula-class. The group was built from the period spanning 1987 into 1992 and commissioned from 1989 into 1992. The boats in the class are lead-ship HNoMS Ula (S-300) followed by sisters HNoMS Utsira (S-301), HNoMS Utstein (S-302), HNoMS Utvaer (S-303), HNoMS Uthaug (S-304) and HNoMS Uredd (S-305). All are in active service as of this writing (November 2017).
Construction of the boats took place in Germany owing to that nation's prowess with shipbuilding (particularly submarines) and Norway's lack of. The class was formed from a 1972 initiative by the Norwegian government to fully modernize the Royal Norwegian Navy's deep sea-going capabilities, particularly as the mighty Soviet Union remained the region's long-time enemy and fielded a large, powerful submarine fleet all their own. The new boat class would be used to succeed the aging Kobben-class group and six boats were contracted for in September of 1982 to be built in German (then West Germany) waters by Thyssen Nordseewerke of Emden.
The boats are traditionally arranged in their design. A high, blunt bow is featured at front and the top of the hull sports a flattened surface. The dive planes are set at the bow. The sail is fitted at midships and is of a low-profile design. The tailplanes at the stern are arranged in an "X" pattern unlike the more conventional cruciform pattern seen elsewhere. The hull is tested down to depths of 200 meters (or 656 feet). Displacement is 1,040 tons when surfaced and 1,150 tons when submerged.
Power is from a diesel-electric arrangement featuring 2 x MTU 16V396 marine diesel engines and a single Siemens Permasyn electric motor generating 3,000 horsepower to a single shaft astern. Surfaced speeds reach 11 knots while submerged speeds peak at around 23 knots. Operational range is 5,000 nautical miles when traveling at 8 knots.
Internally the crew complement numbers just twenty-one owing to the boat's small size. Systems include the British-originated Kelvin Hughes 1007 series surface-search radar fit and a German-designed Atlas Elektronik CSU83 series bow-mounted sonar system as well as a French-designed Thomson "Sintra" flank array. Armament consists of 8 x 21" (533mm) bow-facing torpedo tubes with 14 reloads carried (DM2A3 torpedo family). The combat suite was of all-Norwegian design and development, brought about by the Kongsberg Gruppen ASA concern.
In service, the class is known for its silent operation as well as having good agility. It certainly provides a much-needed offensive reach for the Royal Norwegian Navy and benefit from their compact footprints when compared to the dimensionally-large classes of the United States, Britain, France and Russia. Their small size produces a low profile and an equally low signature to tracking eyes under the sea and on it. The class has been repeatedly deployed to Mediterranean waters to participate in NATO exercises and have being prized for their information-collecting capabilities - aided by their silent operation.
HNoMS Ula (S-300) was laid down on January 29th, 1987, launched on July 28th, 1988 and commissioned into service on April 27th, 1989. Ula was damaged by a practice torpedo during its trials being held in 1989.
HNoMS Utsira (S-301) saw her construction begin on June 15th, 1990 and she was launched to sea on November 21st, 1991. Commissioning arrived on April 30th, 1992.
HNoMS Ultstein (S-302) saw her keel laid down on December 6th, 1989 and was launched on April 25th, 1991, commissioned for service on November 14th of that year.
HNoMS Utvaer (S-303) was under construction beginning December 8th, 1988, was launched on April 19th, 1990 and commissioned on November 8th of that year.
HNoMS Uthaug (S-304) had its keel laid down on June 15th, 1989, was launched on October 18th, 1990 and commissioned for service on May 7th, 1991.
HNoMS Uredd (S-305) was under construction was soon as June 23rd, 1988, was launched to sea on September 22nd, 1989 and formally commissioned on May 3rd, 1990. Uredd took damage during a docking action in March of 1991 and suffered an onboard fire in February of the following year.
The Ula-class will most likely see active service with the Royal Norwegian Navy for the foreseeable future. Modernization of the fleet took place in the middle of the last decade (2006 to 2008) and this period saw the group have their Electronic Warfare (EW) suites modernized as well as new communications equipment installed. Warm weather equipment was also introduced after the Mediterranean tours brought about the need for improved crew comfort in that environment. The joint German-Italian "Type 212" class diesel-electric submarine is viewed as the official replacement for the Ula-class - which could happen as soon as mid-2025.
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