July 02, 2012
Credit: Credit: Christina Mackenzie
Christina Mackenzie Alicante, Spain
Spain might be sailing toward a financial hurricane, but the country's new submarines are forging ahead below the turmoil.
The focus of the Undersea Defense Technology show here this year was the host nation's S-80 submarine. In the nearby Mediterranean city of Cartagena lies an assembly line of these vessels with not just one, but all four, in various stages of completion at the Navantia shipyard.
Any concerns that the program may be affected by Spain's current economic woes were brushed aside. Jesus Pascual, S-80 project manager, says not only that engineering on the submarine is 85% complete but the raw material for all four is 94% procured, the main equipment for the first two submarines is 100% procured and all main equipment except for some of the air-independent propulsion (AIP) equipment has been procured for the second two. Secondary equipment is 95% procured for all four vessels, he says.
The first of the 2,500-ton subs, S-81 Isaac Peral, is more than half completed and on schedule to be afloat in May 2013 and delivered to the Spanish navy in March 2015. The 7.3-meter-dia. (24-ft.) pressure hull and main structures are complete and the sub is being outfitted. The hull and structures are also complete for the second boat, S-82 Narciso Monturiol, and it is undergoing pre-outfitting. This second mixed-AIP-diesel-electric vessel is scheduled to be set afloat in March 2015 and delivered to the navy in November 2017. The pressure hull is being completed for the third, S-83 Cosme García, and the manufacturing process on the pressure hull for the fourth, S-84 Mateo Garcia de los Reyes, is in progress.
The gap between setting afloat and delivery is supposed to get increasingly shorter—September 2016 to March 2018 for S-83, and November 2018 to May 2019 for S-84—given that lessons learned from the first two will be applied.
The AIP system, based on a fuel cell using liquid oxygen and hydrogen extracted from bio-ethanol, allows the boat to remain submerged longer than with batteries. Pascual says it has the “highest AIP range in the market.” The initial two-week submersion endurance in AIP mode should be extended eventually. Its maximum endurance in battery mode is 80 hr.
Navantia called on the expertise of some of Europe's leading naval players. The S-80's screw propeller was designed with Sweden's SSPA, the diesel engine with Germany's Tognum MTU and the simulators with Spain's Indra, which is also supplying the radars. Navantia also analyzed five different combat systems “and the S-80 has been designed to cope with the most complex of them,” remarks Pascual, adding that “potential clients can choose their own weapon and combat system for this submarine giving them unrivaled flexibility to select American, European or domestic sensors and weapons.” He says the Spanish navy chose Lockheed Martin's system so as to have “commonality with our frigates.”