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Dreadnought class

Ballistic missile submarine

Dreadnought class submarine

The HMS Dreadnought is the largest submarine ever built for the Royal Navy

 
 
Country of origin United Kingdom
Entered service Expected in 2028
Crew 130 men
Diving depth (operational) ~ 300 m
Diving depth (maximum) ~ 500 m
Dimensions and displacement
Length 153.6 m
Beam ~ 12.8 m
Draught ~ 12 m
Surfaced displacement ~ 15 000 tons
Submerged displacement 17 200 tons
Propulsion and speed
Surfaced speed ~ 20 knots
Submerged speed ~ 25 knots
Propulsion Nuclear reactor, turbo electric drive, pump jet
Armament
Missiles 12 x Trident II ballistic missiles
Torpedoes 4 x 533 mm torpedo tubes for Spearfish torpedoes

 

   The Royal Navy currently operates Vanguard class ballistic missile submarines. These mighty boats were originally intended for a service life of 25 years. So the lead boats, which was commissioned back in 1993, reached the end of its planned service life already. It is expected to remain in service without refit until 2019. As a result new ballistic missile submarine was developed for the Royal Navy to replace the old boats. Initially it was known as Successor class, though the name was eventually changed to a Dreadnought class. The lead boat, HMS Dreadnought, was laid down in 2016 and is currently being constructed. It should be commissioned with the Royal Navy in 2028. It is planned that a total of 4 Dreadnought class boats will be built to replace the Vanguard class on a 1-on-1 basis. HMS Valiant will be the second boat of the class. The boat was named in 2018. These will be the largest submarines ever built for the Royal Navy, larger than the current Vanguard class boats.

   The main role of these boomers is to patrol undetected in the World's oceans with their deadly nuclear-tipped missiles. This is intended to deter a potential enemy from attacking Britain. Since the retirement of the last Royal Air Force nuclear bomb in 1998, the British nuclear weapons are wholly submarine-based.

   The Dreadnought class boats will use US Trident II (also known as Trident D5) ballistic missiles or its upgraded versions. However the new bots will have only 12 tubes for ballistic missiles, while the Vanguard class boats can carry 16 of them. It may be related to the fact that during peacetime the British Vanguard class boats on patrol typically carry no more than 4-8 missiles out of 16 available.

   The Trident II missiles were designed in the United States and are carried by US Ohio class ballistic missile submarines. Each US Trident II missile can carry up to 8 re-entry vehicles. Even though the Trident II was originally designed to carry 14 re-entry vehicles, this number was reduced to 8 due to nuclear arms reduction agreements originally signed by US and Soviet Union and later by US and Russia. However British missiles use different locally built warheads. Under a 1958 agreement the USA supplied UK with blueprints of their warhead design. But the design, production and maintenance of the UK warheads are purely UK responsibility. Furthermore the UK was not limited by the nuclear arms reduction treaties and was capable of developing improved versions of these warheads on their own. The British Trident II missiles reportedly carry up to 12 warheads per missile. Maintenance of the British missiles occurs in the US. However, the UK Atomic Weapons Establishment at Aldermaston undertakes all the design, construction, installation and maintenance of the warheads. Each re-entry vehicle is targeted independently. Also re-entry vehicles maneuver in order to avoid enemy air defenses.

   The Trident II is a three-stage solid propellant missile. It has a range of 7 800 km with full load and 12 000 km with reduced load. So even though the Trident II does not have the longest range comparing with some other land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles, submarines armed with these missiles can always approach their targets in order to reduce their flight range.

   British ballistic missile submarines have patrol areas in waters either close to the UK or in the remoter parts of the World's oceans, making virtually impossible effective anti-submarine measures, the more so as the boats, are acoustically very quiet. It allows submarines to remain undetected on their deterrence patrols. Currently single Vanguard class boat is on deterrence patrol at any one time, and a reserve boat is also available.

   These boats will have four 533 mm torpedo tubes for Spearfish heavyweight medium-range torpedoes. The Spearfish can hit targets located up to 65 km away. These torpedoes were specially designed to catch high-speed and deep-diving Soviet submarines such as the Alfa class and Sierra I and Sierra II class boats with titanium hulls.

   The new boats will be operated by 130 crew members. It is planned that there will be 150 bunks, so the boats will be capable of carrying additional passengers. As far as these new Dreadnought class boats are significantly larger than the Vanguard class boats, and have more internal space, habitable areas have been improved. For the first time in a Royal Navy submarine, there will be a classroom/study area. There will be gym facilities. The doctor will work from a designated sick bay. Also it is the first Royal Navy submarine to be built with separate female crew quarters, toilets and washing facilities.

   The Dreadnought class boats will be powered by a nuclear pressurized water reactor. The new reactor is more expensive to buy and to operate than the previous one of the Vanguard class. However the new reactor will last longer and will be easier to maintain. The boats will also have pump jet propulsion system. These submarines manufacture their own oxygen and fresh water. Their sea endurance is limited only by food supplies.

 

Name Laid down Launched Commissioned Status
HMS Dreadnought 2016 Expected in 2026 Expected in 2028

under construction

HMS Valiant ? ? ?

planned

? ? ? ?

planned

? ? ? ?

planned

 

 

 
Dreadnought class submarine

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Dreadnought class submarine

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Dreadnought class submarine

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Dreadnought class submarine

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