“The first mission of a submarine is deterrence,” says captain Alejandro Cuerda, commander of the Navy Submarine Flotilla. They operate without being seen, and simply “the uncertainty that there is a submarine in a certain area can force efforts on the part of an opponent, which contributes to deterrence”.
The Spanish Navy currently has three submarines of the S-70 series, of French design, but built in Spain and with more than 30 years. The intention is that the submarines “Galerna”, “Mistral” and “Tramontana” continue in service for a few more years to make the transition to the S-80 series. Now they are undergoing – in turn – revisions to prolong their operational life five and a half years more. The head of the Flotilla points out that “they could arrive until 2029”.
Alejandro Cuerda explains that these ships “are excellent platforms for obtaining covert intelligence”, they carry out tasks of protection of naval forces, underwater mining and -in times of peace- reconnaissance and surveillance tasks. The S-70s have four torpedo tubes and capacity for 16 torpedoes. They have been updated “as far as possible to make them available to real operations with a series of modern capabilities,” he says. Recently they have been participating in operations like Sea Guardian – of NATO against terrorism – or Sophia – of the European Union against illegal immigration.
The Navy will receive the first submarine S-80 in 2022. There will be a total of four submersibles of this series that will go into service as of that date. The commander of the Flotilla affirms that “the jump towards the S-80 is important because the submarine that we have in Spain is a torpedo launcher and now we also turn it into a missile launcher, it will be ready to launch Tomahawk missiles”.
The S-80 is a submarine with a conventional propulsion system, with batteries and a renewed propulsion engine. The main difference is that it will have an independent air system, which will give you the ability to stay longer in the dive.
This captain admits that “it has been a program that has found stones in the road”, and he attributes it to being a “technological and enormous design challenge”, and “the first time that a submarine is designed alone Spain”. The budget of the S-80 has become more expensive after discovering a problem of overweight.