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The force will be brought up to 7 with the entry into service of HMS Anson towards the end of next year?


Anson is more likely to be accepted into service in 2023 and will then need the usual period of working up before undertaking active operations.

Overall numbers will fluctuate between 6 & 7 as Talent and Triumph leave service and won’t reach 7 SSN’s fully operational until Agincourt is delivered and commissioned which will hopefully be 2026 but could always slip.


Bless her.


They have all given sterling service over the course of their commissions, shame we didn’t have more…..


Have the Royal Navy considered running their subs with a two-crew system? US Navy use Blue & Gold crews for their SSBN´s and I think the French Navy have something similar.

Supportive Bloke

They are already run pretty hard. They have a finite hull life – mostly limited by number of dives.

So unless the glacial pace of building them improves we will use up the hulls’ lives faster than we can replace them.


I think that for the Astute build program we will have to work with what we have got, HMG do at least now seem committed to funding it properly.

On the plus side, I think it was mostly the Astute build debacle that finally woke up HMG and RN to the need to sustain strategic industrial capacity. Hence NSS, steady drumbeat, frigate programs etc. and now pushing the model into the other services e.g. Tempest.


So build more submarines so we can have them longer in service…win win.


We do with our SSBN fleet, but not with the SSNs. We don’t have the crew numbers for it, although they do have a slightly larger crew, so some 15% stay behind when the SM sails. They help out with maintenance requirements and extra manner by when said SM returns from deployment. They also help to change some of the crew around when it’s deployed.


‘extra manning’ sorry.


It must be increasingly difficult to find people willing to man these boats – out of sight, out of mind and out of touch for such a long time. Contrast with QE always in the media and with full WiFi…

SSN is one of the most vital services none the less, I think RN would do well to highlight more the excellent work that they do – as much as is possible to reveal of course.


It’s difficult to promote something that is of a sensitive nature. Having said that, there have been some excellent programme’s concerning SMs over the last few years. I’m not too sure how much more can be done.
I think becoming a submariner is similar to the ‘marmite’ debate, you either love or hate it. I was in the former camp and loved it.


Yep to be fair RN do seem to be trying.

Being a submariner seems to me a bit of a paradox – perhaps you need to be a little introverted to cope with the isolation, and very focused for the task, but then you have to live & work right on top of a whole bunch of others. Definitely needs a special kind of person!


More pay For being a submariner and what was the other thing? More women? Not sure…


It’s has always been difficult. Not all submariners are volunteers.


Good point, but that can become a retention issue, which is a problem since overall strength is under, albeit increasing slowly now.


One retention issue among many, many retention issues. 🙂


True – I read somewhere that RN are trying to be more accommodating all round to stem VO. But obviously that’s difficult when you need to give out orders!

Hence my suggestion above about better PR – it costs relatively little and could make the service more attractive to potential recruits. The TV stuff and the ads do seem to be working, in that regard.


I heard senior naval officers used to go and try Bribe new Naval recruits to join the Submarine service… but hey they have it easy these days, WW2 WW1 must have been the most terrifying time on a submarine.. I couldn’t imagine knowing there’s no help if things go wrong back in the wars in the middle of the ocean ect, and didn’t 32 guys die on k13 sub at faslane when testing… that’s why they will Never name another submarine “13”….

Last edited 21 days ago by Cam

The K-boats were death traps.

Our submarine rescue capability is world class. But saying that we are one of the few countries with a credible submarine capability not to have a rescue ship.


Isn’t that because the submarine rescue containers ect all fit on transport aircraft so can deploy globaly easily and fast, and they fit on pretty much anything like off shore Support ships, a dedicated rescue ship could take weeks geting about.


Hi Cam, the aircraft gets the equipment to a airfield closest to the port for depature, a ship is still required to get said equipment to the search/rescue area.


Yeah I know, but a dedicated ship would take too long to travel so they hire a ship nearest the stricken submarine if it’s far away. Cutting time taken to deploy to hours not weeks or days.


It’s like they are running them with no dam crews…


I’ve always wondered what the story behind the white jumpers was…

sad sight, but wonderful pictures and article as always


Just ordered one 😆


They are nice. 🙂


Good summary, but paragraph 3 should probably be adapted to reflect the FV Karen collision. Arguably the procedures have been effective, but not as fully effective as the wording suggests.

Last edited 22 days ago by Cunningham

Why? The article is about HMS Trenchant and not an unidentified UK SM!
HMS Trenchant was involved with the Antares which resulted in the sad loss of 4 lives, the MOD has not released any details of which SM was involved with the FV Karen. It is very unfortunate, but despite these procedures being in place, given the nature of SM operations, incidents are always likely to occur.


May she rest up well for the next 20 odd YEARS. Do these Trafalgar have pump jets?. I sure liked Ajax as an Astute name though!!… And it’s kind of stupid only having our limited number of submarines having the RN land attack Cruise missile capability. Hopefully that will change for all our 14 true escorts and not just the type 26.

Last edited 22 days ago by Cam
David Nicholls

Pump jets were standard fit for all Swiftsure and Trafalgar class (except Swiftsure itself which had a screw)


Ah right cheers


Hi Cam, @DM is correct with what he said, but both Swiftsure and Trafalgar were initially fitted with 7 bladed propellers as ‘first of class’ fit. Can’t remember about Swiftsure, but Traf reverted to a propulser fit after her first docking period post build.
The major advantage of a propulser over a propeller fit is twofold. Firstly it is a lot quieter at any given SRPM, and virtually removes cavitation from the equation. Secondly is approximately 50% more efficient in producing torque, especially when deep. Conversely a propeller is more efficient when shallow, ie at PD or on the surface. C&V class SMs could manage 20kts on the surface, S&T class about 12ish, although that is also due to hull shape and tile fit.
The only difference between S &T class propulser fits is that one was ‘pre swirl’ the other was ‘post swirl ‘ basically one had the rotors before the stators, while the other had them after the stators , and the number of rotors ( moving part of a pumpjet) was also different.
Hope that helps mate.


Thanks Deep32, realy interesting, I know cavitation is a loud problem, but it’ll always happen with fast moving props won’t it. That’s why I wondered about pump jet mate.👍


Wow 10 years to build an astute but only 1 for a trafalgar…is this right? And I thought Astutes were largely based off the Trafalgars.


The Astute programme has been plagued with lengthy delays, the latest of which affected Audacious. The question really needs to be asked why?????


Because MOD didn’t order any new boats for too long, when they went back to Barrow for Astute, there wasn’t much of a yard left. BAE had to get USA help to restart, and as we now see, it takes many years to get a nuclear boat yard back up to speed.

Similar problems right across defence, but SSN/SSBN are unique, because you can’t just buy them off the world market. They are very complex and difficult to build, and as @SB pointed out above, re hull life, you can’t just keep doing lifex for ever, like you can with surface fleet.

Which is why we only have 6/7 SSN left – we couldn’t realistically build or retain more, even if the money was there.

Last edited 21 days ago by Ben Robins

There are a lot of cultural difference between Barrow and Electric Boat too. The former is already lean manned where as the latter if anything is over staffed.

Building an SSN is the paragon of technical ability. No government that cared about Britain should have messed about with the drumbeat. They are expensive but the yard should have been left to carry on production. The government wastes billion elsewhere for no return. It is treasonous.

Last edited 21 days ago by X

Interesting about Electric Boat, I guess USN must have kept their programs well funded all the way through.

I think in the UK it just got overlooked, in successive rounds of defence cuts, and nobody in government appreciated the growing problem at Barrow until it was too late.

If there can be an upside to the whole episode, it’s at least taught HMG a hard lesson not to neglect strategic industrial capabilities, which seems to have been the catalyst for the changes we now see all across defence procurement policy.

Last edited 21 days ago by Ben Robins

Well when they spent three quarters of a TRILLION every year you would hope so.


The SSN should be the core of the fleet now we are a secondary naval power. Simples as the kidz say.


shame we don’t still build submarines anywhere else like Scotland, let’s get them all built On the Clyde, I’m sure SNP and everyone from england would love that 😁….

Supportive Bloke

There is an article in The Telegraph today that made me choke on my cornflakes.

Try this quote for size:

“One of the main lessons BAE – along with its partners Rolls-Royce and Babcock – has learnt from previous projects can be summed up as this: know what you are building before you start building it.

Leckie puts a management-speak spin on it, describing a “good evolution” from Astute being “the ability to mature the design with upfront investment, to the point that you get to the mature state and design before you start procuring or manufacturing”.

In plain English, the previous programme hit trouble because large parts were still being drawn up when production had begun, causing problems when things didn’t fit together. Throw in further confusion by suppliers being told at short notice that something was wanted, only for the specifications to change as problems cropped up, and it’s obvious why Astute ran aground.”

The bit the article misses is that everything from Churchill onwards was a technological evolution built in a continuous run with a design, supply and construction teams who could fill in the blanks and knew the questions to ask, when it didn’t seem right. You can use all the 3D models you like but sometimes they don’t replace simple knowing-what-you-are-doing. The run was broken.

Paul T

Audacious was delayed because she is in effect a ‘Batch 2’ Astute and therefore has several improvements – not that that’s an excuse as these things should be anticipated in the Design and Build process.


Depends largely on what/where these improvements are? If for example they are part of the RC and associated equipment, then , it is conceivable that any improvements are likely to be a long by drawn out process. Nuclear safety is not something that can be rushed through, outside of this, then yes I would agree with your comments.


I agree but it’s possible/likely that the RC may be what’s been worked on.

I recall hearing something about some potential safety issues with Astute reactor, were identified by an audit, and SOPs were updated to compensate? Perhaps the opportunity has been taken to design out those issues for all further boats.

In fairness RN has an excellent operational track record on nuclear safety, but it’s long been a guiding principle in UK that safety should primarily be inherent (i.e. built in) even in the civil sector.

Last edited 20 days ago by Ben Robins

Seven active SSN’s is nothing short of anemic. Defence on the cheap…this is what you get.


There will be one point something available most of the time. Four for one with boats.


Defence on the cheap ?

The new cash represents an increase of 10-15% on the current annual MoD budget of £41.5 billion and is the largest increase since the Cold War.”
Its far from ‘cheap’
The ‘Defence Nuclear organisation’ is the biggest bite of the just under £20 bill defence wide equipment program- ( say £5 bill) thats clearly only naval reactors and SLBM warheads and missiles.

its all in MoD annual Accounts

Some numbers are interesting £7 bill for ‘depreciation and impairment costs’, yes thats bill for what is essentially a commercial accounting process to transfer capital costs to operational budgets and meaningless for something like ‘defence’ who arent a profit centre or pay tax

Whats aslo missing is the operational – maintenance costs by service and broad details within that service .
Say for RN its broken down by its aviation , surface ships, submarines, Royal Marines, training, Headquarters and such .
Nothing like that is available , yet the Ministers and secretaries of state pension costs are detailed.


You can dress it up any way you like – no amount of rouge and lipstick makes this pig look any better. It is amusing to see all of the commendatory comments over the short term increase on defence. This followed two decades of massive, unprecedented cuts. The Trafalger boats were pushed way beyond their capacity. The black hole will consume a good deal of the increase. The brutal reality is that Britain does not regularly spend enough on defence. The UK spends almost 20% of the budget on NHS and nearly as much on the Nanny State but it can’t spend 3% on defence…really?

Last edited 20 days ago by John
Lt Aldo Raine

You do know, don’t you, that 3% of GDP is quite different to 3% of Govt expenditure?


Let’s put the money spent on the NHS in perspective. More health care professionals have died 2020 from Covid-19 than service personal in Gulf War 1, Gulf War 2 and Afghanistan.

Although, we’ll never know how many of these deaths are due to the chronic underfunding that the NHS suffered from in the years prior to the pandemic. One thing is for sure, the current crisis has shown that the NHS is an important asset to this country and starving it of money ends having a detrimental effect on all of us in one way or another.

Last edited 19 days ago by JFKvsNixon

Let’s look at SSNs from other navies around the world, not including the USA because let’s face facts. Their budget is so much higher, so we would never be able to compete on numbers

France – 2 classes. 4 are from the Rubis Class sub which first entered service almost 40 years ago. 1 is from a new class, Barracuda of which 6 are planned.

China – Difficult to assess, but according to the IISS, they have up to 9, some of which would be SSGNs.

Russia – Again difficult to assess due to maintenance and availability issues. Akulas, 4 active – 6 on modernisation. However, there is a question mark as to how many of these will see service with the Russian Navy and how many will be leased to India. 2 Serria class subs and 2 Victor class.

India 1 Akula class sub leased from Russia, with a deal to lease another Akula in place by 2025

I’m more than happy to hold my hands up and admit that this was put together after a quick trawl through the internet, so they might not be the exact numbers. However, they do show that Royal Navy can more than match it’s peers in terms of numbers and quality.


I agree, building and maintaining a SSN fleet, not to mention CASD, is difficult and expensive, full stop. The problems we have seen with Astute program are by no means unique to the UK.

Regarding quality, Astute is highly regarded, even by the well funded USN. Not such a bad result at all, especially given the circumstances.

Overall SSN fleet is still a bit thin given RN commitments/ambition. But it’s not realisticaly possible to build more/faster, so we will just have to manage with what we have got.

Last edited 20 days ago by Ben Robins
Supportive Bloke

Well once Barrow is properly setup hopefully RN can reap the rewards from the £1Bn investment in facilities there.

Then leveraging that and the experience gained maybe, just maybe the future SSN fleet can be expanded by building to a slightly faster drumbeat.

The one thing I am certain of is that the value of SSN is now well appreciated in Whitehall: rather than it being a bit of a cold war relic.

Trouble is you can’t really sell SSN’s so the Parker style build to a fast drumbeat and sell off doesn’t work. And we do need to get to grips with decommissioning the old subs.


Yes, progress is slow but hopefully like you say with all the investment it should start to pay dividends, but it will take time.

Regarding HMG understanding the value, you would hope so, but my guess given the timeline is that it was the problems with Astute that first kicked off NSS and the other procurement changes. So you would appear to be right with that observation.

Can’t sell SSNs but I think RN need to keep everything they can get for the foreseeable! France did sell Barracuda to Australia though; albeit a DE version and to be built locally. So UK missed out on that opportunity.


Exactly. But that eight hull is important for availability. Technology isn’t making these things any easier to build or to maintain.

Astute is way ahead of the French boats. Chinese boats bang like a brick in a tumble dryer. India doesn’t really count.

My only complaint, beyond the lack of the 8th (and 9th through to 12th!) is the lack of a VLS. It is should be an obvious capability………


The absence of VLS is classic…just going on the cheap which is really stupid because one has already spent billions. It is like not putting SEARAM on the carriers..or CAMM…its a drop in the bucket. It’s like sharing harpoon missiles on frigates or putting no SSM on Type 45. This isn’t Pakistan!

Meirion X

The Astute class subs are Not long enough to have VLS. The Virginia Class that have VLS, are 18 meters longer then Astute’s.

Last edited 20 days ago by Meirion X
Supportive Bloke

Do you mean not deep enough to have VLS?


Astute is wider in the beam than Virginia.

Supportive Bloke

I’m lost as to how beam is the critical factor. Surely it is the hull depth so the tubes fit in vertically?

Although I think we may all be talking at crossed purposes.


Well it was you who bought up depth not me. Submarines are basically tubes as being circular distributes pressure evenly.

comment image

And this installation of VPL impacts on case and pressure hull thus…


Oh! Right thank you. Do you think perhaps I meant that they should have been built to accommodate VLS so BUILT LONGER??????


The forward bow planes are in the way and the machinery that operates them. Plus the sonar on the deck.
Forward pictures of the Astutes out of water better show the issue this will have to do. Im wondering if the forward hull design was carried over from the Ts ?

The US boats have the space inside the hull but outside the pressure which was above the tube exits and behind the sonar


Yes. We would be looking at this sort of arrangement………


My favourite example of this was not providing all B1 Rivers with a flight deck. One of the reasons for procuring the Castles was the need to accommodate helicopters at sea which was something for which the Islands where not designed.

The Doc

I thought it was Courageous that was going to be the museum boat?


Article states that the Trafalgar class was the best SSN of the Cold War. In which ways was it better than the LA class?