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Series 70 Galerna-type submarines

After completion in 1986 of four Galerna-type submarines at the Bazan shipyard (of the French Agosta design), Spain's naval forces included eight submarines. Four Delphin-type boats (similar to the French Daphne) constructed at the beginning of the 1970's were then undergoing modernization. Various designs were being examined as prospective candidates for the next series of submarines, to be built in the beginning of the 1990's.

At the crucial time of the Republic's establishment, the submarine fleet had the four original type "A" units, six of type "B," and another six of type "C," which, combined with the "Kanguaro" submarine salvage vessel, comprised the unit. Virtually all these vessels were used in the Morocco campaigns. In the early 1930's, steps were taken to remove the four type "A" units; and, in 1932, the construction of three new type "D" vessels, designed completely in Spain, was ordered.

When the Spanish Civil War broke out (1936-1939), the submarines numbered 12, three of which were sunk, and another seven destroyed in port during those troubled years. Added to those which began the conflict on the Nationalist side were two more of the "Torricelli" class (the "General Sanjurjo," and "General Mola"), purchased in Italy, owing to the concern for providing this type of weapon.

At the end of the Civil War, and as a result of the international isolation, the submarine branch weakened to the point that, by the end of the 1970's, it did not have even a single vessel of this class in operational condition. The entry into service of the five submarines of the "Balao" and "Guppy" type, of US origin, and the start of the project for construction of the Series 60, the French type "Daphne," to be built at the shipyards of the Bazan National Military Naval Construction Enterprise, Inc, in Cartagena, gave a new impetus to the submarine branch, even with the particular shortage of resources available for reinforcing it.

The Series 70 project, with its four French type "Agosta" submarines ("Galerna"class), was to complete, during the early 1980's, the program called for in the Navy General Plans associated with that special force. These latter vessels replaced those of the "Guppy" class, and afforded hope for the future of the fleet during the times to come.

Although the Agosta were the result of optimizing the Daphne to improve their capabilities, between the two there did not exist many similarities, especially in the outer appearance, equipment and, especially, habitability. Spain approved construction on December 6, 1974, receiving the order of execution of the first two on May 9, 1975, putting laid down the first 14 rings that make up the resistant hull on November 27, 1978, receiving the names of winds, inspiring their metopes on the iconography of the Athenian Tower of the winds, at the foot of the Parthenon, unprecedented in the Navy: Galerna and Siroco on February 13, 1981, passing to special situation on 1 September 1981.

The eight submarines comprising the fleet undergo a maintenance plan specified in "Great Careen" (GC) inspections (12 to 15 months out of service), after 4 years of activity; and scheduled maintenance (P) periods (lasting 5 weeks), after 12 weeks of activity. The scheduling of the GC is incumbent on the Navy chief of logistical backup (JAL), and that of the P, on the arsenal. An attempt is made never to have more than two submarines in a GC situation (one from each series); or more than two submarines in P.

The ideal number of vessels is something not yet officially determined, although it was the general consensus that it should exceed eight units. Because of financial limitations, the Navy limited itself to those eight; and it assigned missions on the basis of those available. It was the same thing that held true of salaries and family requirements. With eight submarines, the Navy covered the minimum; if there were more, the Navy could accomplish otherthings that are desirable but not essential.

For selecting a new submarine, a basic requirement had always been its capacity to operate in the Atlantic and Mediterranean waters; which directly affect Spain's security and its maritime trade. In a NATO/WP conflict, these submarines would operate within the Alliance, in accordance with the guidelines emanating from the latter. In a limited or crisis conflict, they would operate in accordance with the guidelines of the political authorities, since they are, precisely, a special force.

As of early 2013 the Navy only had two submarines operating, with an average age of 27 years, the 'Galerna' and the 'Tramuntana', since the 'Mistral' was under repair until the spring of 2013. If delays occur in the delivery of the S-81, the complexity of the construction, that will take it beyond 2016, the armed forces would be with an only submarine operating. It would be the 'Mistral', which as of early 2013 was passing its last major review. Later in 2013 'Tramuntana', the most modern in the series, entered overhaul. The 'Tramuntana' ends its operational life in 2018.

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Page last modified: 21-02-2019 18:44:24 ZULU