HMS Splendid (S106)

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For other ships of the same name, see HMS Splendid.
Career (UK) RN Ensign
Name: HMS Splendid (ex Severn)
Operator: Royal Navy
Ordered: 26 May 1976
Builder: Vickers
Laid down: 23 November 1977
Launched: 5 October 1979
Commissioned: 21 March 1981
Decommissioned: 2004
Motto: Splendidly Audacious
Status: Awaiting Disposal
Badge: HMS Splendid creset.jpg
General characteristics
Class and type: Swiftsure-class submarine
Displacement: 4,900 tonnes (dived)
Length: 82.9 m (272 ft 0 in)
Beam: 9.8 m (32 ft 2 in)
Draught: 8.5 m (27 ft 11 in)
Propulsion: One Rolls-Royce pressurised water nuclear reactor (PWR1)
Two WH Allen turbo generators
One Paxman diesel alternator
One emergency drive motor
Speed: In excess of 20 knots (37 km/h), dived
Complement: 116 officers and men
Armament: 5 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes
Spearfish torpedoes
RN Sub Harpoon missiles
Tomahawk cruise missiles

HMS Splendid was a Royal Navy nuclear-powered fleet submarine of the Swiftsure class.

Since her launch in 1979, she has taken part in many conflicts involving British forces around the globe.


HMS Splendid was ordered on 26 May 1976 as the sixth and last submarine of the Swiftsure class.[1] The submarine was laid down at Vickers Shipbuilding Groups Barrow-in-Furness shipyard on 23 November 1977 and was launched on 5 October 1979,[1] by Lady Eberle, wife of Admiral Sir James Eberle, then Commander-in-Chief Fleet.[2] Splendid commissioned on 21 March 1981,[1] under the command of Commander R C Lane-Nott.

Operational history[edit]

Her first major conflict came in 1982 during the Falklands war when Argentinian forces invaded the British-held Falkland Islands. Splendid was one of the first submarines to reach the islands, arriving mid-April, after sailing from Faslane. Unlike HMS Conqueror, Splendid did not directly engage Argentinian forces, however she shadowed the Argentine carrier 25 de Mayo, the Splendid running within a mile outside of the Argentinian territorial line, 12 miles off its Atlantic coast. The Captain of HMS Splendid made the bold and disputable claim, that running on the edge of the exclusion zone around the Falklands, declared by the UK government, he had the right in international law and approval from the British PM, to fire at the 25 de Mayo, a couple of miles away within Argentine waters, and would have fired MK 8 torpedoes at the 25 de Mayo,[3] if he had confirmed his precise position. But just at the moment, he lost sight through the periscope of the carrier and was not immediately able to regain contact. The Naval Commander of the task force, Admiral Sandy Woodward, does not appear to be entirely clear, that HMS Splendid had the right to fire, but says he established, against his prior view, that the Splendid had orders to engage and approval of the PM.[4][page needed] Splendid did however provide valuable reconnaissance to the British Task Force on Argentine aircraft movements. Splendid‍ '​s presence along with HMS Conqueror effectively restricted the freedom of action of the Argentine Navy, which spent most of the war confined to port.

In the late 1990s, Splendid became the first British ship to be armed with American-built Tomahawk cruise missiles. In 1999 the BBC were allowed on board to record her firing Tomahawks in battle against Yugoslav targets in Belgrade during the Kosovo War, becoming the first British submarine in the conflict to do so. She again fired these weapons against Iraqi targets in the 2003 invasion of Iraq.[5]

In July 2003, HMS Splendid returned to her home at Faslane Naval Base on the River Clyde in Scotland. The youngest of the Swiftsure vessels, she was decommissioned in HMNB Devonport, Plymouth in 2004 due to defence cuts.[citation needed] Commander Burke was later awarded the OBE for his leadership of HMS Splendid in the Gulf.

Involvement with the sinking of the Kursk[edit]

For more details on this topic, see Kursk submarine disaster.

HMS Splendid was present, along with the US Navy submarines the USS Memphis and the USS Toledo[6] at the Russian war games during which the Russian submarine Kursk exploded and sank, resulting in the loss of that submarine and all 118 sailors and officers on board. Despite the conclusions of independent forensic inquiries and the eventual corroborating admission by the Russian Navy that the explosion was triggered by a faulty torpedo on board the Kursk, various conspiracy theories posit that Kursk was actually sunk by one of the US or British submarines. This may partly stem from the Russian Navy's initial attempts to shunt away criticism of its failed efforts to rescue the surviving crew members from the ocean floor and of the generally poor condition of its own equipment, which was eventually found to be the cause of both the sinking and the failure of the Russian rescue attempts.[7] In the days immediately after the explosion, Russia suggested that the cause of the disaster was a collision with one of the US or British submarines present.[8] Though the accusation proved to be unfounded, conspiracy theorists have inevitably picked up on and elaborated it in various directions over time.

Commanding officers[edit]

From To Captain
1981 1982 Commander Roger Lane-Nott RN
1987 1988 Commander Mark Stanhope RN
1995 1997 Commander Ken Clark RN
1997 1999 Commander Ian Corder RN


  1. ^ a b c Moore 1985, p. 616.
  2. ^ "Splendid (S106)". Submariners Association: Barrow-in-Furness Branch. Retrieved 12 July 2014. 
  3. ^ Polmar 2008, p. 517.
  4. ^ Woodward 2012
  5. ^ Hero's welcome for sub crew - BBC News, 17 July, 2003
  6. ^ "Russia Identifies U.S. Sub". New York Times. 2000-09-01. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  7. ^ Gentleman, Amelia (2002-08-24). "Fire down below". The Guardian. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 
  8. ^ "Cohen Press conference at the U.S. Embassy, Tokyo". US Department of Defense. 2000-09-22. Retrieved 2008-12-19. 


  • Moore, John (1985). Jane's Fighting Ships 1985–86. Jane's Yearbooks. ISBN 0-7106-0814-4. 
  • Polmar, N. (2008). Aircraft Carriers: A History of Carrier Aviation, Vol. 2, 1946–2006. Washington, DC: Potomac Books. ISBN 9781574886658. 
  • Woodward, Sandy; Robinson, Patrick (2012). One Hundred Days: The Memoirs of the Falklands Fleet Commander. London: Harper. ISBN 978-0-00-743640-8. 

External links[edit]