HMS Tireless at the North Pole, April 2004
|Builders:||Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, Barrow-in-Furness.|
|Preceded by:||Swiftsure class|
|Succeeded by:||Astute class|
|General characteristics |
|Class & type:||Nuclear-powered fleet submarine|
|Displacement:||4,800 tonnes, surfaced
5,300 tonnes, dived
|Length:||85.4 m (280 ft)|
|Beam:||9.8 m (32 ft)|
|Draught:||9.5 m (31 ft)|
|Installed power:||15,000 shp (11 MW)|
|Speed:||32 knots (59 km/h) dived|
|Range:||Unlimited, except by food supplies and maintenance requirements.|
|Complement:||130 (18 officers)|
|Ferranti/Gresham Dowty DCB/DCG or BAE Systems SMCS data system, Type 2072 hull-mounted flank array passive sonar, Plessey Type 2020 or Marconi/Plessey Type 2074 hull-mounted active and passive search and attack sonar, Ferranti Type 2046 or TUS 2076 towed array passive search sonar, Thomson Sintra Type 2019 PARIS or Thorn EMI 2082 passive intercept and ranging sonar, Marconi Type 2077 short range active classification sonar, Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 I band navigation radar, Pilkington Optronics CK34 search periscope, Pilkington Optronics CH84/CM010 attack periscope|
5 x 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes with stowage for up to 30 weapons;
The Trafalgar class is a class of nuclear-powered fleet submarines in service with the Royal Navy. They are a direct follow on from the Swiftsure class and were, until the introduction of the Astute class, the Royal Navy's most advanced nuclear fleet submarines.
With five boats in commission and two retired, they form the core of the Royal Navy's nuclear-powered ‘hunter-killer’ submarine force. HMS Torbay, Trenchant, Talent, and Triumph have been fitted with the Sonar 2076 system, which the Royal Navy describes as the most advanced sonar in service with any navy in the world.
The first Trafalgar-class submarine, HMS Trafalgar, was ordered on 7 April 1977 and completed in 1983.
Turbulent was ordered on 28 July 1978; Tireless on 5 July 1979; Torbay on 26 June 1981; Trenchant on 22 March 1983; Talent on 10 September 1984; and finally Triumph on 3 July 1986.
In 1993 Triumph sailed to Australia, covering a distance of 41,000 miles (66,000 km) 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 Fleet Submarine, however this project was effectively cancelled in 2001 and replaced by the Maritime Underwater Future Capability. The Astute class will eventually replace the Trafalgar class as well as the now-retired Swiftsure. As of 2008[update] it is planned that the last Trafalgar-class submarines will remain in service until 2022. The name Trafalgar refers to the Battle of Trafalgar fought between the Royal Navy and the combined fleets of France and Spain.
The Trafalgar class is a refinement of the Swiftsure class and was designed six years later than its predecessor. The design includeds a new reactor core and Type 2020 sonar (now replaced by Sonar 2076 on some boats). The internal layout is almost identical to the Swiftsure, and is only 2.5 metres longer. However at a dived displacement of 5,300 tonnes the Trafalgar class is significantly larger.
Some major improvements over the Swiftsure class include several features to reduce underwater radiated noise. These comprise a new reactor system, a pumpjet propulsion system rather than a conventional propeller, and the hull being covered in anechoic tiles which are designed to absorb sound rather than reflect it, making the boats quieter and more difficult to detect with active sonar.
Weapons and sensors
The Trafalgar class is equipped with 5 x 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes with accommodation for a mixture of 30 weapons;
- Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles - range over 1,240 miles (over 2,000 km)
- Spearfish wire-guided heavyweight torpedoes
The introduction of the 2076 towed array passive search sonar equipped on at-least four boats of the Trafalgar class has significantly improved their capabilities. BAE claims that the 2076 represents a "step change" over previous sonars and is the world's most advanced and effective sonar system.
Submarines of the class
|Name||Hull||Hull builder||Ordered||Laid down||Launched||Accepted
|S107||Trafalgar||1||Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering||7 April 1977 ||25 April 1979 ||1 July 1981 ||13 July 1983 ||27 May 1983 ||£|
|S87||Turbulent||2||Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering||28 July 1978 ||8 May 1980 ||1 December 1982 ||30 July 1984 ||28 April 1984 ||£160,000,000 |
|S88||Tireless||3||Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering||5 July 1979 ||6 June 1981 ||17 March 1984 ||30 October 1985 ||5 October 1985 ||£|
|S90||Torbay||4||Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering||26 June 1981 ||3 December 1982 ||8 March 1985 ||2 March 1987 ||7 February 1987 ||£175,000,000 [Note 2]|
|S91||Trenchant||5||Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering||22 March 1983 ||28 October 1985 ||3 November 1986 ||7 February 1989 ||14 January 1989 ||£|
|S92||Talent||6||Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering||10 September 1984 ||13 May 1986 ||15 April 1988 ||12 May 1990 ||£|
|S93||Triumph||7||Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering||3 January 1986 ||2 February 1987 ||16 February 1991 ||12 October 1991 ||£|
In 1982, Jane's Fighting Ships recorded: "Estimated cost of fourth submarine £175 million including equipment and weapon system when fitted." In 1986, Jane's recorded that the average cost for this class was £200 million at 1984-5 prices.
Three of the Trafalgar-class boats have been involved in conflicts which on each occasion saw the launch of live cruise missiles.
In 2001 Trafalgar took part in Operation Veritas, the attack on Al-Qaeda and Taliban forces following the 9/11 attacks in the United States, becoming the first Royal Navy submarine to launch Tomahawk cruise missiles against Afghanistan.
On 16 April 2003, Turbulent was the first Royal Navy vessel to return home from the invasion against Iraq, Operation Telic. She arrived in Plymouth flying the Jolly Roger after having launched thirty Tomahawk cruise missiles.
In March 2011, Triumph participated in Operation Ellamy, firing Tomahawk cruise missiles on 19 March and again on 20 March at Libyan air defence targets. The MOD also confirmed that on 24 March a further series of missiles were fired into Libya by a Trafalgar-class submarine at air defence targets around the city of Sabha. The boat involved this attack was later revealed to have also been Triumph. Triumph returned to Devonport on the 3 April 2011 flying a Jolly Roger adorned with six small Tomahawk axes to indicate the missiles fired by the submarine in the operation.
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, a leak in the reactor primary cooling circuit was discovered on Tireless, forcing her to proceed to Gibraltar on diesel power. The fault was found to be due to thermal fatigue cracks, requiring the other Trafalgar-class boats, and some of the remaining Swiftsure-class boats, to be urgently inspected and if necessary modified. 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 2007, a small explosion aboard 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.
The first of the submarines to be taken out of active service was Trafalgar, which was decommissioned on 4 December 2009.
date as of 2005
|HMS Trafalgar||Decommissioned||2008||4 December 2009|
|HMS Turbulent||Decommissioned||2011||14 July 2012|
In 1987, the Canadian White Paper on Defence recommended the Canadian Armed Forces purchase 10 to 12 Rubis- or Trafalgar-class submarines under a technology transfer programme. The choice of submarine type was due to be confirmed before Summer 1988. The stated goal was to deploy a three-ocean navy to assert Canadian sovereignty over Arctic waters. The plan was abandoned in April 1989 and the Canadian Forces eventually acquired four of the Royal Navy's diesel-electric Upholder-class submarines.
- Graham, Ian, Attack Submarine, Gloucester Publishing, Oct 1989, page 12. ISBN 978-0-531-17156-1
- Royal Navy website[dead link]
- Navy News and Events: Trenchant Sails After Busy Maintenance Period[dead link]
- Royal Navy News and Events: Upgraded Attack Submarine Rejoins the Fleet[dead link]
- Royal Navy News and Events: Minister Visits Multi-Million Pound Submarine Overhaul And Upgrade Programme[dead link]
- Trafalgar class submarines. Hansard. 17 November 2008 : Column 154W. Retrieved 2009-07-12
- "Unit cost, i.e. excluding cost of certain items (e.g. aircraft, First Outfits)." Text from Defences Estimates
- Sharpe, Richard, Jane's Fighting Ships, 1996-97, pub 1996, Jane's Information Group, ISBN 0-7106-1355-5 page 758.
- Hansard HC Deb 23 October 1989 vol 158 cc357-8W Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking him to list the Royal Navy vessels built in each of the past 15 years, showing the cost of each and the yards in which they were constructed, 23 October 1983. The second part of this may be found at Hansard HC Deb 23 October 1989 vol 158 cc358-61W.
- Hansard HC Deb 23 October 1989 vol 158 cc358-61W Question to the Secretary of State for Defence asking him to list the Royal Navy vessels built in each of the past 15 years, showing the cost of each and the yards in which they were constructed, 23 October 1983. The first part of this may be found at Hansard HC Deb 23 October 1989 vol 158 cc357-8W.
- Moore, John, Jane's Fighting Ships, 1982-83, pub Jane's Publishing Company, 1982, ISBN 0-7106-0742-3 page 546.
- Jane's Fighting Ships, 1986-87.
- Trafalgar Returns[dead link]
- Nick Hopkins (20 March 2011). "Air strikes clear the skies but leave endgame uncertain". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 21 March 2010.
- "RAF strikes against Gaddafi's forces branded 'a success' as bombed out tanks and cars litter the roads near Benghazi". Daily Mail (London). 21 March 2011.
- "Missiles target Libyan air defences". Navy News. 21 March 2011. Retrieved 23 March 2010.[dead link]
- [dead link]
- "Libya action: More UK missiles target defences". BBC News. 24 March 2011.
- [dead link]
- [dead link]
- John H. Large (March 2005). Forensic Assessments of the Nuclear Propulsion Plants of the Submarines HMS Tireless and RF Northern Fleet Kursk (PDF). Institution of Mechanical Engineers seminar: Forensic Investigation of Power Plant Failures. Retrieved 2007-03-22
- "Oxygen device sparked sub blast". BBC News. 22 March 2007. Retrieved 25 May 2010.
- "HMS Trafalgar pulls down flag and retires from sea". Northwest Evening Mail. 5 December 2009. Retrieved 2010-11-12.
- Hansard HL Deb 14 March 2005 vol 670 c116WA quoted in House of Commons Defence Committee - Fourth Report, 12 Dec 2006
- BBC News Submarine's final sailing to base
- Challenge and Commitment: A Defence Policy for Canada. Ottawa: Department of National Defence (Canada). 1987. pp. 52–54. ISBN 978-0-660-12509-1. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
- Defence Update 1988-89. Ottawa: Department of National Defence (Canada). 1989. ISBN 0-662-55733-6. Retrieved 10 June 2010.
- Keith Spicer (10 September 2007). "Canada's Arctic claims". Ottawa Citizen.
- MaritimeQuest Trafalgar-class overview
- Abridged history of each boat
- Report on 2003 upgrade of Torbay[dead link]
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