Their Majesties the King and Queen of Spain, accompanied by their daughters, the Princess of Asturias and Infanta Sofia, will preside over the launching ceremony of the S-81, the first submarine of the S-80 series, at the Navantia shipyard in Cartagena on Thursday 22nd.
The S-81, which will bear the name ‘Isaac Peral’, is the first submarine designed and built entirely in Spain and, therefore, is a clear commitment to national technological development, which will enhance the strategic independence of the country’s defence and the international projection of the Spanish industrial fabric, according to a press release from Navantia.
With this programme, Spain joins the small group of countries that can design and build submarines, an enormously complex challenge given that these are vessels that must operate autonomously in a hostile environment. They therefore require highly specialised knowledge in various disciplines and an extremely qualified industrial and technological support base, the note adds.
In addition to the members of the Royal Family, the launching ceremony will be attended by the Minister of Defence, Margarita Robles; the President of the Region of Murcia, Fernando López Miras; the Chief of Defence Staff (JEMAD), Admiral General Teodoro López Calderón and the Admiral Chief of Staff of the Navy (AJEMA), Admiral General Antonio Martorell Lacave. Also present will be the president of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez, and the president of the Sociedad Estatal de Participaciones Industriales (SEPI), Belén Gualda.
The S-80 programme is the greatest industrial and technological challenge faced by the national defence industry. Navantia is making a huge technological leap forward, as for the first time it assumes the role of Technical Design Authority and completes the cycle of technological evolution: from building in Spain with a foreign design to building in Spain with its own design.
The S-80 submarines will have an overall length of 80.8 metres, a diameter of 7.3 metres and a submerged displacement of around 3,000 tonnes. Its technological contributions include the Navantia Sistemas combat and platform control system, and a revolutionary anaerobic propulsion system developed by Navantia that provides great stealth in immersion, called BEST-AIP. This propulsion system, which is independent of the atmosphere, will allow it to obtain electrical energy from fuel cells using technology from the aerospace sector, at any depth. It will thus be able to remain at periscopic depth for weeks at a time, which will improve its discreetness, the main attribute of a submarine.
The S-80s will therefore be the most advanced conventional (non-nuclear) submarines in the world, which has aroused the interest of several navies in other countries and has opened a door to the international market in a highly technological sector, according to the Spanish shipping company.
The launching ceremony, which will be held following health and safety measures, will take place next to the workshop where the submarine has been built before the process of transferring it to the water by means of a floodable dock begins. This manoeuvre, which takes several hours, will be carried out over the next few days as an act of work at the shipyard.
Once afloat, port trials will commence, followed by sea trials, including surface navigation and immersion to maximum height. The first sailing of the S-81 is scheduled for early 2022 and its delivery to the Navy one year later.
Impact on the economy and employment
The S-80 programme has meant a qualitative leap for Navantia, which is at the forefront of the international conventional submarine market, with active offers in several countries. It is also a qualitative leap for the collaborating industry, as around one hundred companies from 11 different autonomous communities are taking part in the S-80 programme.
It generates direct, indirect and induced employment for more than 6,000 people and an annual impact on the Spanish GDP (direct, indirect and induced contribution) of more than 250 million euros, of which more than 80 million are a direct contribution to the regional GDP (1% of Murcia’s GDP).