Dolphin class submarine

Dolphin class submarine
I.n.s. dolfin-03.JPG
INS Dolphin (2010)
Class overview
Builders: Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft (HDW)
Operators:  Israeli Navy
Completed: Dolphin
Leviathan (trans. "Whale")
Tekumah (trans. "Revival")
Active: 3 (another 3 on order[1][2])
General characteristics
Type: Diesel-electric submarine
Displacement: 1,640 tons surfaced, 1,900 tons submerged
Length: 57 m (187 ft)
Beam: 6.8 m (22 ft)
Draught: 6.2 m (20 ft)
Propulsion: Diesel-electric, 3 diesels, 1 shaft, 4,243 shp
Speed: 20 knots (37 km/h)
Test depth: At least 200 metres (660 ft)
Complement: 35 + 10 additional
Sensors and
processing systems:
STN Atlas ISUS 90-55 combat system
Armament: 6 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes,
4 x 25.5 inch (650 mm) diameter torpedo tubes
Notes: Characteristics listed are those of the original 1990s non-AIP-capable model

The Type 800 Dolphin class is a diesel-electric submarine developed and constructed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft AG (HDW), Germany for the Israeli Navy. It is based on the export-only German 209 class submarines, but modified and reduced and is thus not seen as a member of the 209 family. The Dolphin boats are the most expensive single vehicle in the Israel Defense Forces and are considered among the most sophisticated and capable conventional submarines in the world.[3] The Dolphins replaced the aging Gal class submarines, which had served in the Israeli navy since the late 1970s.



  • Dolphin – May 1998
  • Leviathan (trans. "Whale") – 1999
  • Tekumah (trans. "Revival") – 2000

The first two (Dolphin and Leviathan) were donated by Germany, the third (Tekumah) was purchased by Israel. The first two were delivered in 1997 and the third in 1999. During the first Gulf War, German firms were accused of helping Iraq with its chemical weapons program, which led to protests in both Germany and Israel. To calm Israeli concerns, compensate Israel for economic losses[4] and keep German shipyards occupied,[5] then Chancellor of Germany Helmut Kohl approved an assistance package including the construction of two Dolphin submarines.[6][7]

Additional procurement

In 2006 Israel signed a contract with ThyssenKrupp to purchase two additional submarines from its HDW subsidiary.[6] The two new boats are an upgraded version of the older Dolphins, featuring an Air-independent propulsion system, similar to the one used on German Type 212 submarines.[6] On July 6, 2006, the Government of Germany decided to pay an advance to start the construction, about 170 million euros, planned for delivery in 2012.[8] The two submarines cost, overall, around 1.3 billion euro, of up to one-third was paid by Germany.[4] In 2010, both Israel and Germany denied having talks regarding the potential purchase of a sixth submarine.[9] Yet in 2011, Israel ordered a sixth Dolphin submarine, for which it was reported to pay the full cost of $1 billion.[10] However, in July 2011, during a meeting between German Defense Minister Thomas de Maizière and Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense minister Ehud Barak, an agreement was reached to subsidize 135 million euros of the 500-700 million USD cost of the sixth submarine.[11][12]

Der Spiegel reports that Germany has threatened to pull out of the deal over new Israeli settlement expansion.[13] However, Amos Gilad of the Israeli Ministry of Defense has denied the rumors and stated that the contract is continuing.[2]


Each submarine is armed with 6 x 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes, which are also capable of firing Sub-Harpoon missiles, and 4 x 25.5-inch (648 mm) torpedo tubes. The submarines are also able to deploy mines.[14]

Jane's Defence Weekly reports that the Dolphin class submarines are believed to be nuclear armed, offering Israel a second strike capability.[15][16] The US Clinton administration refused an Israeli request in 2000 to purchase Tomahawk long range SLCM's.[17] The Federation of American Scientists and report that the four larger 25.5-inch (648 mm) torpedo tubes are capable of launching nuclear-armed Popeye Turbo cruise missiles (a variant of the Popeye standoff missile) with a range recorded by the US Navy of 1,500 kilometres (930 mi).[18][19] These larger torpedo tubes can also launch underwater swimmer delivery vehicles.[14]


According to news reports the submarines are normally based in the Mediterranean.[20] One Dolphin was sent to the Red Sea in June 2009, which Israeli media interpreted as a warning to Iran.[21] The Israeli Navy decided in May 2010 to keep at least one submarine equipped with nuclear missiles there permanently as a deterrent in response to rumoured ballistic missiles move from Syria to Lebanon.[16][dubious ]


  1. ^ Eshel, Tamir (6 May 2011). "Israel to Receive a Third Enhanced Dolphin Submarine". Defense Update. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  2. ^ a b Sixth Submarine: “The Contract Continues”
  3. ^ Plushnick-Masti, Ramit (25 August 2006). "Israel Buys 2 Nuclear-Capable Submarines". The Washington Post. Retrieved 2010-05-01. 
  4. ^ a b Dan Williams (25 November 2009). "Israel seeks discount on two German warships". Reuters. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  5. ^ "Israel: Submarines". Weapons of mass Destruction. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  6. ^ a b c "German-Israeli Dolphin AIP Sub Contract Signed". Defense Industry Daily. 22 August 2006. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  7. ^ Captain(Res.) I. Fogelson, Captain(Res.) M. Keisary, Commander(Res.) R. D. Koehler (11.12.1999). "The Dolphin Project". Zahal (Israel military store). Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  8. ^ Weinthal, Benjamin (18 January 2010). "First German-Israeli cabinet set to meet". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 19 February 2011. 
  9. ^ Yaakov, Katz (23 July 2010). "MOD: No talks with Germany over sub". The Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 23 July 2010. 
  10. ^ Shiffer, Shimon (5 May 2011). "Israel buys Dolphin submarine".,7340,L-4064989,00.html. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  11. ^ Spiegel (July 17, 2011). "Deutschland subventioniert U-Boot für Israel" (in German).,1518,774904,00.html. Retrieved July 17, 2011. 
  12. ^ Staff (18 July 2011). "'Germany to finalize sale of Dolphin submarine to Israel'". JPost. Retrieved 25 July 2011. 
  13. ^ "Germany Threatens To Halt Submarine Sale to Israel." SPIEGEL, 31 October 2011.
  14. ^ a b "SSK Dolphin Class Attack Submarine, Israel". SPG Media. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  15. ^ Alon Ben-David (1 October 2009). "Israel seeks sixth Dolphin in light of Iranian 'threat'". Jane's Defence Weekly. Retrieved 2009-11-03. 
  16. ^ a b Uzi Mahnaimi (30 May 2010). "Israel stations nuclear missile subs off Iran". The Sunday Times (London). Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  17. ^
  18. ^ "Popeye Turbo". Federation of American Scientists. Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  19. ^ "Popeye Turbo". Retrieved 2011-02-19. 
  20. ^ "Israeli sub sails Suez, signaling reach to Iran". Reuters. Jul 3, 2009. 
  21. ^ "Israel sends sub as 'a warning'". The New Zealand Herald. Jul 06, 2009. 

External links

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