German Submarines Using Russian-developed navigation technology?

German Submarines Using Russian-developed navigation technology?
U31 of the German Navy in Kiel harbor – Credits: Wolfgang Greiner

On March 27 an article in the tabloid Bild is Sonntag said Russian-developed navigation technology is installed on German Navy submarines has prompted lawmakers to investigate.

German submarines were using the Navi Sailor 4100 product as an electronic chart display and information system, or ECDIS.

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The manufacturer is Transas, a company with roots in Saint Petersburg, Russia, a branch of which was bought by Finland’s Wärtsilä in 2018.

The Navi Sailor 4000-series terminals, a kind of digital version of nautical maps, are standard pieces of equipment on many commercial vessels. Some Western governments have chosen the equipment for their security forces in the past.

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According to the Bild am Sonntag report, the German Navy’s association with Transas goes back to 2005. Twitter sleuths this week circulated a photo of a Transas terminal installed on the German frigate Brandenburg as proof that surface ships also were equipped with the technology.

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The inner workings of navigation and geolocation are typically highly guarded secrets on naval vessels, as many types, especially submarines, try to evade detection by adversaries for the advantage of surprise.

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