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Trafalgar class

Nuclear-powered attack submarine

Trafalgar class submarine

The primary mission for the Trafalgar class submarines is anti-submarine warfare

Entered service 1983
Crew 97 men
Diving depth (operational) 400 m
Diving depth (maximum) 600 m
Sea endurance ?
Dimensions and displacement
Length 85.4 m
Beam 9.8 m
Draught 8.2 m
Surfaced displacement 4 800 tons
Submerged displacement 5 300 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed 20 knots
Submerged speed 29 knots
Nuclear reactors 1 x ?
Steam turbines 2 x ?
Missiles Tomahawk Block IIIC cruise missiles; 5 x UGM-84B Sub-Harpoon missiles in place of torpedoes
Torpedoes 5 x 533-mm bow tubes for 20 Spearfish and Mk 24 Tigerfish torpedoes
Other 50 x Stonewall and Sea Urchin mines in place of torpedoes


   Essentially an improved Swiftsure class design, the Trafalgar class constitutes the third generation of British SSNs built at the Vickers shipyard in Barrow-in-Fumess. The lead boat, HMS Trafalgar, was launched in 1981 and commissioned into the Royal Navy in March 1983, serving with the Swiftsure class boats at the Devonport naval base. The class total of seven boats also includes HMS Talent, HMS Tireless, HMS Torbay, HMS Trenchant, HMS Triumph and HMS Turbulent.

   The major improvements over the Swiftsure class include several features to reduce the underwater radiated noise. These comprise a new reactor system, a pumpjet propulsion system rather than a conventional propeller, and the covering of the pressure hull and outer surfaces with anechoic tiles to give the same type of protection as afforded by the Soviet Clusterguard coating in reducing noise.

   The Trafalgar was the first boat to be fitted with the Type 2020 sonar, and was used as the development test platform for the system. According to other reports there has also been a rearrangement of the internal compartments to allow a rationalization and centralization of the operations, sound and ESM/radar rooms. The remaining systems, the armament and the sonars are the same as fitted to the Swiftsure class boats, although a thermal imaging periscope is now carried as part of the search and attack periscope fit, and Type 197 sonar is no longer carried. The fin, like those of the earlier British SSNs, houses an SHF DF antenna, communications antennae, and snort induction, radar and ESM masts. Underwater communications are believed to be conducted via a towed buoy and/of a floating antenna.

   The primary mission of the Trafalgar class submarines all of which remain in service with the Royal Navy, is anti-submarine warfare, with anti-surface ship warfare as a secondary role. The boats can launch the Tomahawk Block IIIC cruise missile.


Video of the Trafalgar class nuclear-powered attack submarine

Trafalgar class submarine

Trafalgar class submarine

Trafalgar class submarine

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