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Series 60 Delfin-type submarines

Underwater operation is key for any country, given the peculiarities of the operations to be developed by submarines, which, due to their difficult detectability and their means of action, allow unattainable missions to be carried out by surface or aerial means. The Spanish submarines of the Delfin class, already discharged, were the first "modern" ships in the Navy. Four units of the French Daphne model were built in Cartagena, Murcia in the 1970s. The were submarines of diesel propulsion, rather small, coastal, armed with 12 torpedo tubes 550mm, 8 forward and 4 aft. With a characteristic bow bulb, they receive the names of marine animals: Dolphin, Tonina, Marsopa and Narval.

This class of ship was built for several countries, original France, Spain, South Africa but the sales were paralyzed due to two accidents with total loss of the ships and their crew in the Mediterranean, due to a defect in the snorkel.

The Dolphin has a total of eight compartments, distributed in its 57.8 meters in length. From stern to bow we find the torpedo compartment, the sub-officers compartment, the propulsion compartment, the navigation compartment, the operations center, the officer's compartment and the torpedo compartment, already at the bow of the ship. The dimensions of the ship are important, with a displacement of 1043 Tm, a length of 57.8 meters, a draft of 4.6 and a beam of 6.8 meters. The surface speed was around 13.5 knots and the immersion speed 15.5, counting on a crew of one Commander, 7 officers, 15 sub-officers and 33 sailors.

By the early 1960s submarines had several tasks today of the greatest importance. They were warships of attack and defence, and they are essential to the fleet for training anti-submarine forces. Submarine philosophy is more and more turning towards their use in the anti-submarine role. Conventional submarines have an asset in relation to nuclear submarines; they are very much cheaper. A navy can build about half a dozen conventional submarines for the capital cost of one nuclear submarine. Their running cost is about a seventh of a nuclear submarine's.

Since the beginning of the century almost all Spanish naval construction had been with English technology. So it was thought that the most logical solution for new Spanish submarines was the British market, with the Oberon. The quality of the "Oberon" Class as a conventional submarine, was second to none. These submarines were most effective warships, with a capacity for silent stalking which has shown up well in exercises, even against nuclear submarines from the USA.

But the Labour Government of Harold Wilson torpedoed any chance of agreement, under the argument that could be used to regaining Gibraltar, although reality hid that Western democracies did not forgot that Franco was a crony of the nazis and fascists. There was therefore no alternative but to go to other markets. The French, with the type Q241 Daphne, were reaping a huge international success, with sales to Portugal, South Africa and Pakistan. The German Type 205 submarines did not conform to the Mediterranean parameters, to be designed to operate in waters reduced as the Baltic Sea.

The key to the French commercial success, was based on the Gallic pragmatism, that they sold to anyone who could pay, no matter the type of regime that prevailed in the buyer country, arriving after negotiations to a satisfactory agreement, that even President of the Republic Charles de Gaulle received in the Elysee the incorrigibly Pro-Franco Admiral Pedro Nieto Antnez, de facto author of the introduction into Spain of the technology.

In this way the French breathed air into construction of submarines by the then Empresa Nacional Bazn in Cartagena, and moved to Brest a select number of operators to perfect their knowledge, mainly in electric welding. In principle it was agreed to the construction of two submarines should be composed of a minimum of 60 percent of national components, importing 40 remaining.

As the plan progressed, the order expanded to two more, with successful results, since these submarines had high technological performance, specially designed to hunt down the large and noisy SLBM (Submarine Launched Ballistic Missile) ballistic missile. The large American Guppy type only offered the advantage of its better habitability, proliferating in the fleets of Italy, Greece, Turkey, the Netherlands and the Ibero-American, but in the case of a conflict would have been steel coffins.

Libya eventually became interested in construction in Spain of the Daphne, since France was already not producing them, but in this case American political pressure thwarted the operation. Spain was the only user able to perform in their own facilities, offering both Bazn, albeit with foreign assistance, the possibility of putting in the competitive and complex construction of submarines, since it is twice as complicated in relation to a surface ship.

The Spanish Daphne, baptized with names of cetaceans and known as Series 60, were a success, but extremely austere in terms of habitability. This selection meant also adopting the French weapons system, with its peculiar gauge of 550 mm, instead of usual in NATO, surpassing the quality of the platform the French standards, considering the possibility of increasing the series in two more 533 German and American. In 1971, the Commission commissioned by the Navy for the study of the Series 60, directed by Captain Juan Antonio Garate Coppa, recommended that rather than increasing their number, it was more affordable and reasonable to embark on the construction of the Agosta, since that the other option, the German type 209, had little autonomy, complicated logistics weaponry and training.

The Floating Museum of Submarine S-61 Dolphin was the first ship of the Spanish Navy that became a museum. Admission is free and includes a guided tour. On December 1, 1974, the combat flag was delivered to the submarine S-61 Dolphin in the city of Torrevieja, for its great seafaring tradition and its good relationship with the Spanish Navy.

Once it was time to "retire" the ship it was thought to deliver his last flag also in Torrevieja and later donate it to the municipality as a floating museum. The submarine S-61 "Dolphin" was dropped from the list of Navy ships on December 10, 2003, after 29 years of uninterrupted service at sea. The Ministry of Defense, being Minister Federico Trillo, and the City Council of Torrevieja, signed on 4 February 2004 the agreement for the cession of the submarine S-61 "Dolphin", being the first time that the Navy yielded one of its ships to a city council of our country.

In this way, Torrevieja has become the first municipality that has a submarine of the Navy, which has been enabled since May 2004 as a "living museum", becoming a permanent static exhibition and as a tourist attraction and cultural heritage of the first order in the city, and which is located in the dock of the fishing pier. The visit to the interior of the submarine allows to know the interior and imagine what were the living conditions of its crew. To enter, it is necessary to measure at least one meter and fifteen centimeters and it is not recommended for people who are afraid of small spaces or suffer from claustrophobia.

There was only one submarine of the 60 series available, the 'Marsopa', and although it was disputed by several cities, finally, Defensa has awarded it to the Majorcan town of Soller, which has been left with the last of the submersibles of this class that was given in full. The head of the Naval Sector of the Balearic Islands, Jos Mara Urrutia, announced this decision in January 2009 after meeting with the president of the Balearic Government, Francesc Antich. The submersible will be installed in the naval station of Port of the Mallorcan city for tourist use and to promote Soller.

In this way, the Balearic town joined Torrevieja and Cartagena as cities to which Defense has given them a submarine of the 60 series for tourist purposes. In fact, in the coastal city of Alicante, the 'Delfn' is docked in its docks since mid-2004 and you can visit its interior. The experience of Torrevieja shows that a submarine can become a great tourist attraction, since in its first two years open to the public it added more than four hundred thousand visitors.

For its part, Cartagena will keep the 'Tonina', which will be exhibited in the center of the future CIM Plaza, between what will be the Naval Museum and the School of Business Sciences of the Polytechnic University. The completion of the refurbishment of the old barracks is scheduled for mid-year. In addition, the square of the CIM that will host the submarine 'Tonina' will be the culmination of the boulevard in which the municipality of Cartagena intends to transform the Calle Real. The 'Tonina' is currently in dry dock in the Navantia cattle farm.

At first, it had been announced that the submarine that would remain Cartagena would be the 'Narval', but it was in poor condition, so it was scrapped. The Narval was the fourth Spanish submarine of the Delfin class, built by the Izar factory in Cartagena, and was delivered to the Spanish Navy on November 22, 1975. Thirteen years later it underwent a process of modernization, with which it was endowed with new sonars and a launching system of philogued torpedoes, according to sources from the Ministry of Defense. They also indicate that the drop of this submarine is framed within the Modernization Plan of the Spanish Navy units, which includes the construction of the new submarines of class S-80, which will replace those of the Delfin class.

The ship has never participated in any war, but in its 22,000 hours of immersion, the submarine conducted surveillance operations, support for a naval force and control of maritime traffic. According to the commander, "the submarine is a very versatile weapon." Throughout the vessel's 27 years of life, it has been guided by 14 commanders, 105 officers, 130 non-commissioned officers, 450 personnel and professional troops. Likewise, 450 volunteer sailors performed their compulsory military service in their facilities.

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Page last modified: 21-02-2019 18:44:23 ZULU