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The Mystery of the Venezuelan Navy’s Submarines

LINK FOR ARTICLE in the last few years there has been very little public information on Venezuela’s attack submarines.

NOTES Today Venezuela Navy lists two German built Type-209 submarines, Sábalo (S-31) and Caribe (S-32). The Type-209s are relatively dated designs and overdue for replacement.

They were delivered in 1976 and 1978. They have received some upgrades during their service, including an improved weapons system, but remain dated. They are armed with the German supplied Atlas Electronik SST-4 Seal wire-guided torpedoes. This weapon is a 1980s generation type but is still considered relevant.

During President Hugo Chavez’s term there were reports of a major submarine deal with Russia. Moscow supplied lots of high- tech weaponry at the time including Su-30 Flanker fighters and S-300V surface to air missiles. The plan was to buy some 5 Kilo class submarines. These would have been the improved Project-636 model, and they were to be followed by 4 more advanced Project-637 Amur class boats. The deal would have given the Venezuelan Navy the largest submarine force in Latin America.

The submarines were purchased from Germany in the mid-1970s (delivered in 1976 and 1978) and replaced the obsolete US surplus Tench Class (GUPPY) fleet boats. They have since undergone upgrades including improvements to the sensor suite and weapons system, including Atlas Electronik SST-4 wire-guided torpedoes, as well as new batteries. The submarines, along with most major surface vessels, are based at Puerto Cabello, about 210 km west of the Capitol, Caracas. It is the largest and busiest port in the country and has dry dock facilities with a hard standing for vessels undergoing maintenance.

Standard displacement: 1,390 tons (submerged)
Length: 59.5 meters
Beam: 6.2 meters
Draft: 5.5 meters
Operating depth: <500 meters
Speed: 11 knots surface, 21.5 knots submerged
Endurance: 50 days reported
Crew: 33 standard, up to 38 in Venezuelan service
Armament: 8 x 533mm (21″) torpedo tubes with up to 14 SST-4 torpedoes

Operational Roles

Blue Water Operations
– Fleet Support
– Hunter
– Direct-Attack

For 2020, Venezuela is ranked 41 of 138 out of the countries considered for the annual GFP review. It holds a PwrIndx* rating of 0.6449 (0.0000 considered ‘perfect’).

LINK For more see Type 209 (class) Diesel-Electric Attack Submarine