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Isaac Peral Series 80 S-80 Submarine - Design

Navantia, the shipbuilder contracted to create and build the S-80 submarines in the late 1990s. The new subs were far behind schedule, though originally expected to be delivered by 2015. A primary concern for the project was its bioethanol-based air-independent propulsion system, which will allow the sub to stealthily operate for weeks while submerged. In 2017, the media reported that the system would not be ready in time for the first sub's delivery in 2022.

The Strategic Defence Review issued in February 2003, considered the S-80 Submarine a priority program. This document takes into account the need to procure submarine units to maintain the freedom of action and mobility of the Force with two submarines operating simultaneously in two theaters: one in a far away scenario and another close by. The units will have an air independent propulsion system with land-attack missile capability and important elements for intelligence gathering.

In the 1980s the Navy began considering the submarine that would have to replace the "Daphne" type, during the mid-1990's. The basic features that it must have were totally determined by 1988, and there were two options. First, to purchase the plan from another country and build it in Spain, or to design it in Spain with foreign technical collaboration, and build it later (which would take from 10 to 12 years of work). Both options depended on the budgetary provisions, and the administration's decision on what was most feasible from a political, economic, and technological standpoint. The Series 80 vessels must be more silent, inconspicuous, and speedy than those belonging to the "Galerna" class. Their weapon system would have to be in keeping with the technological advances of the time.

The adoption of nuclear propulsion was not just a policy decision per se, but depended on third countries. Spain lacked sufficient technology over the short and medium term, as well as potential for manufacturing the fuel. Moreover, there was the problem of training the personnel on all levels, and of the necessary infrastructure on land for the maintenance and management of the reactors. And, in view of all these problems, it it virtually impossible for nuclear propulsion to be applied to the future Series 80 submarines (unless they were purchased directly, and had been maintained in the selling country for some time).

The mission of the Combat System is to acquire, assess and provide all necessary information for the fulfilment of the mission, as well as controlling the weapons and their launching systems. From the design point of view, the Combat System is completely integrated. It operates from multi-function console tables with an open, modular and distributed architecture and an extensive use of COTS. From the multi-function console tables the following systems can be controlled: all ship sensors including the information gathered; command and control functions like track management and decision making aids; and weapons launching systems including wire-guided torpedoes. The S-80 Combat System includes:

  • Launching capability of long range land-attack missiles.
  • Satellite communication systems and Data Link.
  • Short, medium and long range acoustic sensors capable of detecting, classifying, selecting and attacking surface and underwater units and shipping and mine detection.
  • Visual, optronic (all-weather) and electromagnetic detection assets which allow the submarine to quietly and stealthily approach, attack and escape, and take part in intelligence gathering operations.
  • Navigational aids to carry out specific and precise operations.
  • Double purpose long range heavy torpedoes, mines and anti-ship missiles.
In agreement with the Strategic Defence Review, the Naval Forces, apart from maintaining the control of sovereign maritime spaces and areas of national interest, must be directed towards far away theatres, with a special emphasis in naval power projection. Therefore, naval power projection operations and the protection of army and naval forces in littoral waters are more probable situations than the traditional naval combat. The submarine, as part of the naval force, with both, her traditional and state-of-the-art weapons and communication systems, must significantly contribute to those operations. To this end, the submarine must be capable of integrating into the Force. Consequently, the ship mounts a real-time reliable and secure communications and information exchange system.

S-80 missions include the following tasks:

  • Projection of the naval power ashore.
  • Special Naval Warfare.
  • Protection of a Landed Force.
  • Surveillance (Indication & Warning).
  • Protection of a Naval Force.
  • Deterrence.

S-80 submarines must face the following threats both in the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea:

  • Mine fields.
  • Surface ships with active and passive sonars.
  • ASW aircraft with radars, active and passive sonobuoys and VDS. State-of-the-art nuclear and conventional submarines.
After a rigorous decision making process, the MoD selected Abengoa as the optimum alternative to supply the ethanol reformer for the S-80 Class Submarines. Abengoa had met the S-80 Programme schedule and milestones, supplying full size equipment verified on endurance test. The new propulsion system will allow the submarines to extend the mission duration thanks to the new function of recharging batteries during immersion. Until now, non-nuclear submarines used batteries in their propulsion systems that only allowed them to operate in immersion for a day or two. Now, with the new AIP system, this period is extended up to three weeks.

The AIP System consists of several main equipment: Bioethanol Processor System (BPS), Fuel Cell Power Module (FCPM), Power Conditioning System (PCS), CO2 Disposal System (SECO2) and AIP Control System (AIPCS). Abengoa is in charge of the design, manufacture and validation of several of these main equipment (BPS, PCS and AIPCS), as well as the integration of the FCPM and SECO2 to guarantee the required performance, functionality and operability.

In order to meet the stringent demands that this program requires, a multitude of challenges have been overcome, taking technology to a new level. An example of this is the complex design of BPS, which not only meets the efficiency, performance, robustness and safety requirements, but also complies with the demanding requirements regarding size and maintainability inside the submarine. This technological challenge has been possible thanks to the intense collaboration between the Ministry of Defense, Navantia and Abengoa.

This project represents a new milestone in Abengoa's Defense activity and, in particular, for its Hydrogen business strategy, in which Abengoa has been working for more than 15 years with several developments in various technologies to produce, store and use hydrogen in different sectors.

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Page last modified: 06-06-2021 18:19:54 ZULU