After years of delays, the Spanish Navy is finally ready for the launch of its first S-80 class submarine, which will be lowered into the water at Spanish shipbuilder Navantia’s yard in Cartagena.
The ceremony, which will be attended by Spanish royal family and navy and defense officials, will take place on April 22.
Issac Peral (S-81), as the first in the class of four air-independent propulsion diesel-electric submarines will be named, will hit the water after a delay of roughly seven years.
One of the main factors in the considerable delay is the fact that the submarines were determined to be too heavy to be able to dive and surface properly. Spain had to resort to the drastic measure of elongating the boats by 10 meters to a new length of 81 meters. This caused another problem for the program. The new length of the boats meant that the submarine pens at the Cartagena naval base where they will be based had to be reconstructed to accommodate the boats’ new dimensions. All of this also caused significant cost increases and brought the overall cost of the program to close to 4 billion euros.
Despite the challenges, the launch of Isaac Peral will be a significant milestone for Spanish defense industry and capability. S-80 is the first submarine class designed and built in Spain, allowing the country to join an elite club of nations that can indigenously design and build submarines.
The submarines will have an overall length of 80.8 meters, a diameter of 7.3 meters, and a submerged displacement of around 3,000 tons. They include the integrated combat system and platform control system developed by Navantia Sistemas. They will also have BEST-AIP, an air-independent propulsion system, which supplies the ship with electrical power at any depth so that it can remain underwater for longer periods.
A high level of automation will allow the submarine to be operated by a limited number of crew members (32 sailors and 8 berths for additionally embarked personnel). It will be capable of reaching an underwater speed of more than 19 knots, and a maximum depth capacity of over 300 meters.
The next milestones for the S-80 program will be harbor tests and sea tests, which include sailing up to the maximum operating depth. The first sailing is scheduled for early 2022 and delivery to the navy in early 2023.
Isaac Peral is expected to enter service in the second half of 2023, with the other three units following suit every two years.