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Swiftsure class

Nuclear-powered attack submarine

Swiftsure class submarine

Two attack submarines of the Swiftsure class are still in service with the Royal Navy

Entered service 1970s
Crew 97 men
Diving depth (operational) 400 m
Diving depth (maximum) 600 m
Sea endurance ?
Dimensions and displacement
Length 82.9 m
Beam 9.8 m
Draught 8.2 m
Surfaced displacement 4 200 tons
Submerged displacement 4 900 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 20 knots
Submerged speed 30 knots
Nuclear reactors 1 x ?
Steam turbines 2 x ?
Missiles Tomahawk  Block III cruise missiles, 5 x UGM-84B Sub-Harpoon anti ship missiles
Torpedoes 5 x 533-mm bow tubes for 20 Mk 8 or Mk 24 Tigerfish torpedoes
Other 50 x Stonefish or Sea Urchin mines in place of torpedoes


   In 1971 the first of the UK's Swiftsure class of second-generation SSNs was launched at the Vickers shipyard at Barrow-in-Furness. This HMS Swiftsure introduced a hull form shorter and fuller than that of the Valiant class in order to provide greater volume and create a stronger pressure hull for operation at greater depths and speeds than the previous class. The fin is smaller and the retractable diving planes are located below the water line. The Swiftsure was followed by five sister ships, HMS Sovereign, HMS Superb, HMS Sceptre, HMS Spartan and HMS Splendid. The submarines are currently used both in the ASW screening role for task forces, and in the independent anti-ship and ASW roles because of the quieter machinery used. Their sonar fit is basically the same as that of the Valiant class, and all had the Type 2020 fitted as the Type 2001 replacement during normal refits. The armament is reduced by one tube and seven torpedoes, but this reduction is balanced by the fact that it takes only 15 seconds to reload individual tubes. Emergency power is provided by the same 112-cell electric battery and associated diesel generator and electric motor as fitted in the Valiant and Churchill classes.

   In 1976 the Sovereign demonstrated the Royal Navy's ability to conduct ASW operations under the ice pack when it undertook a trip to the North Pole, the operational aspects being combined with a successful scientific voyage.

   The Spartan and Splendid were both involved in the Falklands War. At the end of 2002 four of the submarines were still in service with the Royal Navy, the Swiftsure have been decommissioned in 1992 after cracks were found in its reactor during a refit. HMS Splendid followed in 2004, while the HMS Spartan was decommissioned in 2006. In 1998 two boats of the class, that were still in service, have been armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles.

   All Swiftsure class boats were eventually retired by 2010.



Video of the Swiftsure class nuclear-powered attack submarine

Swiftsure class submarine

Swiftsure class submarine

Swiftsure class submarine

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