The first S-80 Plus class submarine of the Spanish Navy has been launched

(To Stefano Peverati)
30/04/21

The new submarine of the Spanish Navy, Isaac Peral (S-81), was launched on April 22 in Cartagena at the Navantia shipyard in the presence of the King of Spain Philip VI. The pear tree it is one of the largest non-nuclear submarines in the world and promises to be a major step forward for the Spanish Navy (Armada Española) and will also be offered on the export market. Furthermore, it is currently the only Western non-nuclear submarine capable of being equipped to launch cruise missiles Tomahawk.

the class S-80 Plus will be characterized by the use of an AIP (air independent power) system with bioethanol fuel cells known as BEST (Bio-Ethanol Stealth Technology) by the manufacturer Navantia according to which the system should offer some advantages over other AIP systems, including the absence of the hydrogen tanks essential for the other AIP systems.

The submarine can be armed with the DM2A4 heavy torpedo SeaHake, the UGM-84 anti-ship missile Sub-Harpoon and SAES mines. It was also planned to equip them with the UGM-109 land attack cruise missile Tomahawk which would have placed the Spanish Navy in an elite group of submarine operators with a strategic attack capability (so-called deep fire). The order Tomahawk it was not realized but the submarine retains the ability to transport them in case they are acquired in the future.

The development of the S-80 was not without complications and delays and the first two boats, theIsaac Peral (S-81) and the Narciso Monturiol (S-82) will enter service without AIP which will be added later. The third hull, Cosme García (S-83), should have the AIP installed this year as well as the last unit, Mateo García de los Reyes (S-84), will receive it during construction.

The new class from 2023 will allow to completely upgrade the submarine fleet of the Spanish Navy, which is gradually withdrawing the previous classes from service. Agosta which remain in service only the Galerna (S-71) and the Tramontana (S-74).

The AIP has an autonomy of about 3 weeks and can be used for the entire depth range of the submarine this capacity combined with the crew reduced to only 32 people can make it attractive on the international market. It certainly cannot be ruled out that the S-80 class might also have some export potential, although it faces stiff competition. It is reportedly in the running for India's next non-nuclear submarine program, the P-75I.

Isaac Peral (1851-1895), after whom the class unit takes its name, was a naval officer and engineer who designed the first fully electric submarine which was commissioned to the Spanish Navy in 1888, more than 10 years before the US Navy and Royal Navy commissioned their first class submarines The Netherlands.

In his honor, the name Isaac Peral was given to three other previous Spanish Navy submarines (the A-0 class The Netherlands 903-L series (1917-1932), the C-1 class, C (1928-1950), S-32 class Balao former USS Ronquil (SS-396) (1971-1984).

Despite Peral's pioneering work, the postwar Spanish submarine fleet was partly made up of foreign-acquired vessels. Local production of French models began in Cartagena in the late 60s with the class Daphne and followed by the class Agosta in the 80s. However, based on the experience gained from licensed construction, in the 90s Navantia (Spain) and DCNS (Now Naval Group, France) started the joint development of the class submarine Scorpène aimed at the export market with successes in Chile, Malaysia, India and Brazil.

Photo: Armada Española / web