The Type 214 is a diesel-electric submarine developed by Howaldtswerke-Deutsche Werft GmbH (HDW). It features diesel propulsion with an air-independent propulsion (AIP) system using Siemens polymer electrolyte membrane (PEM) hydrogen fuel cells. The Type 214 submarine is derived from the Type 212, but as an export variant it lacks some of the classified technologies of its smaller predecessor most important of which is the non magnetic steel hull which makes the Type 212 submarine impossible to detect using a magnetic anomaly detector.
A contract to build three boats for the Hellenic Navy was signed 15 February 2000 and a fourth one was ordered in June 2002. The first boat was built at HDW in Kiel, Germany and the rest at the Hellenic Shipyards Co. in Skaramangas, Greece. The Hellenic Navy named them the Papanikolis class.
The Republic of Korea Navy has ordered nine Type 214 submarines, designated as Son Won-Il class, to be built in Korea by Hyundai Heavy Industries and Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering; three first batch models had entered service since 2007, and six second batch models will enter service from 2012.
Due to improvements in the pressure hull materials, the Type 214 can dive nearly 400 meters. The Type 214 can carry food, fresh water and fuel for 84 days of operation.