Trafalgar class submarine

Trafalgar class submarine

The "Trafalgar" class submarines were, until the introduction of the "Astute" class, the Royal Navy's most advanced nuclear fleet submarines (SSNs). HMS "Torbay," HMS "Trenchant", HMS "Talent", and HMS "Triumph" have been fitted with Sonar 2076, which the Royal Navy describes as the most advanced sonar in service with any navy in the world. [] [ Navy News and Events: Trenchant Sails After Busy Maintenance Period] [ Royal Navy News and Events: Upgraded Attack Submarine Rejoins the Fleet] [ Royal Navy News and Events: Minister Visits Multi-Million Pound Submarine Overhaul And Upgrade Programme]


The "Trafalgar" is a refinement of the "Swiftsure" class and designed six years later than its predecessor. The design included a new reactor core and Type 2020 sonar. Internal layout is almost identical to the "Swiftsure", and it is only 2.5 metres longer. The "Trafalgar" class have strengthened fins and retractable hydroplanes, allowing them to surface through thick ice. The hull is also covered in anechoic tiles which are designed to absorb sound rather than reflect it, making the boats more difficult to detect with active sonar.

The major change was in propulsion. Rather than the seven/nine-bladed propeller used by the "Swiftsures", "Trafalgar" class submarines use pump-jet propulsion - a high-pitch, low-revolution propeller which is much quieter but much heavier than conventional propeller designs. In keeping with RN tradition and for the purposes of sea trials the pump jet system was not fitted in favour of a standard propeller in HMS "Trafalgar" and so the pump-jet was first used in the second in the class, HMS "Turbulent."

The first "Trafalgar" class submarine was ordered on April 7, 1977 and completed in 1983. "Turbulent" was ordered on July 28, 1978; "Tireless" on July 5, 1979; "Torbay" on June 26, 1981; "Trenchant" on March 22, 1983; "Talent" on September 10, 1984; and finally "Triumph" on July 3, 1986.

In 1993 "Triumph" sailed to Australia, covering a distance of 41,000 miles whilst submerged and without any forward support. This marked the longest solo deployment by any British nuclear submarine.

The "Trafalgar" class was to be replaced by the Future Attack Submarine (FASM), however this project was effectively cancelled in 2001 and replaced by the Maritime Underwater Future Capability. The Sclass|Astute|submarine|4 will eventually replace the "Trafalgar" class as well as the "Swiftsure" class of which only two remain in service.

The name Trafalgar is derived from the original Arabic name رأس الطرف الأغر (Al-taraf al-agharr) meaning "Edge Of Cave". It refers to the battle which took place between the British Fleet and the combined fleets of France and Spain, known as the Battle of Trafalgar.

ervice problems

The "Trafalgar" class have suffered from a number of technical difficulties. In 1998 "Trenchant" experienced a steam leak, forcing the crew to shut down the nuclear reactor. In 2000 cracks were discovered in the reactor cooling pipes of "Tireless", forcing her to proceed to Gibraltar on diesel power. In August 2000 it was revealed that with "Tireless" still at Gibraltar, "Torbay", "Turbulent", "Trenchant" and "Talent" were at Devonport for refit or repair and with "Trafalgar" undergoing sea trials, only one boat - "Triumph" - was fully operational. By 2005 refits had reportedly corrected these problems.

In 2002 "Trafalgar" ran aground off Skye during Operation Cockfight [ [ Royal Navy submarine's £5m repair bill blamed on tracing paper | UK news | ] ] .

In 2007, a small explosion aboard HMS "Tireless" resulted in the death of two sailors and injury of another. The accident took place while the submarine was submerged under the Arctic icecap during a joint British-American exercise. An oxygen candle in the forward section of the submarine was thought to be responsible for the accident [ [ BBC NEWS | England | Oxygen device sparked sub blast ] ] .

General characteristics

* Builder: Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd
* Displacement: 4,750 tons surfaced, 5,208 tons submerged
* Length: 85.4 meters
* Beam: 9.8 meters
* Draught: 9.5 meters
* Complement: 18 officers, 112 ratings
* Propulsion: 1 x Rolls-Royce PWR1 pressurized water cooled nuclear reactor delivering 15,000 shp for 30 kt max
* Armament: five tubes capable of firing:
** Spearfish torpedoes
** Tomahawk missilesTigerfish and Harpoons are no longer used by any submarine class within the Royal Navy.
* Sensors:
** sonar (bow, flank, active intercept, and towed arrays)
** periscopes (attack and search)
** collision avoidance radar
* Command System:
** SMCS-NG (based on Microsoft Windows) from 2004 onwards


The "Trafalgar" class includes seven boats:
* "Trafalgar" (S107)
* "Turbulent" (S87)
* "Tireless" (S88)
* "Torbay" (S90)
* "Trenchant" (S91)
* "Talent" (S92)
* "Triumph" (S93)


External links

* [ Royal Navy official site]
* [ Report on 2003 upgrade of Torbay]
* [ Abridged history of each boat]
* [ MaritimeQuest Trafalgar Class Overview]

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