A Comprehensive List of British Submarine Classes

British Submarine Classes
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Since its formation, the British Navy has played an important role in world events. And its submarine fleet has been no exception to this rule. 

From the start of their operations to today, Britain’s submarines have been some of the most advanced in the world. With the latest in technology available at any given time during their existence.

This article has compiled an extensive list of all British submarine classes.

Table of Contents

1. Stickleback Class

The first on our list of British submarine classes is the Stickleback class. The Stickleback class was a class of five submarines built for the Royal Navy in the 1930s. 

The lead boat, HMS Stickleback, was launched in 1934 and saw action during World War II. The other four boats were scrapped at the end of the war.

2. Archimede Class

The Archimede class is one of the diesel-electric British submarine Classes operated by the Royal Navy. The class was designed in the late 1990s to replace the aging Oberon class and entered service in 2003. 

The Archimede class is significantly larger than its predecessor and is armed with torpedoes, mines, and cruise missiles.

The class is also equipped with advanced sonar and radar systems and can remain submerged for extended periods.

3. Resolution Class

The Resolution class was a class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) in service with the Royal Navy from 1966 until 1996.

The class consisted of four boats: Resolution, Renown, Repulse, and Revenge. These boats were armed with 16 Polaris A3 missiles, each capable of carrying three nuclear warheads.

4. Vanguard Class

The Vanguard class is a class of nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) in service with the Royal Navy. The class was introduced in 1994 and included four boats: Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant, and Vengeance. All four boats are based at HMNB Clyde in Faslane, Scotland.

5. Astute Class

The Astute class is a class of nuclear-powered fleet submarines in service with the Royal Navy. The class was designed by BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines and are the largest and most powerful attack submarines ever built for the Royal Navy.

The class comprises seven boats: Astute, Ambush, Artful, Audacious, Anson, Agamemnon, and Achilles.

6. Swiftsure class

The Swiftsure class is one of the British Submarine classes. It is a class of nuclear-powered fleet submarines with the Royal Navy.

The class was designed in the late 1970s to replace the previous Trafalgar and Churchill classes and was first commissioned in 1983. 

Swiftsure submarines are armed with torpedoes, Tomahawk cruise missiles, and Harpoon anti-ship missiles and can operate at depths of up to 600 meters (2,000 ft).

7. Valiant class

The Valiant class was a class of nuclear-powered fleet submarines in service with the Royal Navy from 1966 until 1994. They were one of the first nuclear British submarine classes to be built in Britain and were also the first to be armed with Polaris missiles.

8. Churchill Class

Britain has a long and storied history when it comes to submarines. The first Churchill class submarine was commissioned in 1980 and served until 2007.

This class was designed for anti-submarine warfare and saw action in the Falklands War. The next Churchill class submarine, HMS Astute, was commissioned in 2010 and is still in service today. 

9. Trafalgar Class

The Trafalgar class is one of the class nuclear-powered fleet British submarine classes in service with the Royal Navy. The class was designed in the late 1970s and 1980s to replace the earlier Sturgeon-class submarines. 

Also, the Trafalgar class is one of the largest British submarine classes ever built for the Royal Navy, with a displacement of 7,800 tonnes (7,600 long tons; 8,500 short tons).

10. Dreadnought

Dreadnought was the first submarine class officially recognized by the Royal Navy. The class was designed by Vickers and built by Barrow-in-Furness. Dreadnought was commissioned around  1906 and had a displacement of 1,600 tons.

The class armed four 18-inch (450 mm) torpedo tubes and six 4.7-inch (120 mm) guns. Dreadnought saw action in World War I and II and the Falklands War.

11. X Class

Though it was never intended to be used in warfare, the X class is one of the British submarine classes developed as a research vessel in the early 1900s.

Though it was slow and had a small crew, the X class could dive deeper than any other submarine at the time. Despite its shortcomings, the X class played an important role in developing future submarine technology.

12. Oberon Class

The Oberon class was a class of British diesel-electric submarines launched in 1959. They were designed as an improved version of the Porpoise class, with a better hull design and more powerful engines. The first boat of the class, HMS Oberon, was commissioned in 1961.

13. Upholder Class

The Upholder class is one of the diesel-electric British submarine classes in service with the Royal Navy from 1990 to 1994.

The class was designed and built by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering (now BAE Systems Maritime – Submarines) at Barrow-in-Furness.

A total of seven boats were built, six of which were sold to Canada in 1998 and renamed the Victoria-class submarine.

14. K Class

In early 1917, the British Admiralty commissioned the first of a new class of submarines, known as the K class. The K class was designed to be larger and more heavily armed than any previous submarine. 

The first two boats were commissioned in 1918, and six more had been built by the end of the war. All eight boats saw action in World War I, and all but one survived the war.

15. Explorer Class

The Explorer class is a class of nuclear-powered submarines operated by the Royal Navy. The class was designed for long-range operations and to be as quiet as possible. As of 2016, there are four boats in service, HMS Astute, HMS Ambush, HMS Artful, and HMS Audacious.

16. Vampire Class

Though they were designed with different purposes, all British submarine classes had one common goal: to stay undetected while hunting their prey. The Vampire class is no different. Originally designed as a long-range hunter-killer submarine.

However, the Vampire was later converted to a special forces vessel, carrying out covert operations during World War II. Though its exact capabilities are still unknown, it is clear that the Vampire class played a vital role in ensuring Allied victory.

The P611 class submarine is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines in service with the Royal Navy. The class was designed in the early 1990s to replace the aging T (Trafalgar) and U (Swiftsure) classes and entered service between 1995 and 2003. The class is also known as the Astute class, after the lead boat HMS Astute.

17. Undine Class

Suppose you’re interested in learning about the different types of British submarine classes used by the British Navy. The Undine class is a diesel-electric submarine that was first introduced in the early 1930s. 

Although, these boats were used extensively during World War II and remained in service until the late 1960s. They are no longer on active duty. However, Undine class submarines are still used for training and research.

18. Grampus Class

The Grampus class is one of the British submarine classes built for the Royal Navy in the early 1900s. The class was designed by Vickers and originally comprised eight boats. All eight boats were completed between 1903 and 1904. The A class succeeded the Grampus class.

19. Odin Class

The Odin class is a class of nuclear-powered submarines operated by the Royal Navy. The class was designed in the early 1990s and commissioned between 1996 and 2003. The class comprises four boats: HMS Vanguard, HMS Victorious, HMS Vigilant, and HMS Vengeance.

20. Holland-class

The Holland-class submarine was a class of seven submarines built for the Royal Navy between 1901 and 1903. John Philip Holland designed the submarines, the first successful ones built in Britain. The Holland class was also the first class of submarine to be equipped with torpedoes.

21. HMS X1

HMS X1 is one of the  British submarine classes that saw service during World War I and II. The class consisted of six boats: HMS X1, HMS X2, HMS X3, HMS X4, HMS X5, and HMS X6. Vickers Armstrong built all six boats at Barrow-in-Furness.

The V class was a class of submarines built for the Royal Navy during World War I. The class comprised 12 boats and was an improved version of the previous W class. 

22. V Class

The V-class boats were larger than the W class and had six torpedo tubes, two more than the W class. They also had a more powerful engine and greater range.

The V class is one of the British submarine classes commissioned between 1915 and 1916 and saw action in both World Wars. There is a hidden world few people ever get to see beneath the waves.

The ocean’s depths are home to some of the most fascinating and dangerous creatures on Earth and some of mankind’s most impressive engineering feats. 

23. W Class

Deep beneath the waves, a W-class submarine prowls. The W class is one of the British submarine classes active during World War I and II. They were among their time’s largest and most advanced submarines and saw action in both conflicts. 

The W class was designed for long-range patrols and had a surface displacement of 1,600 tons. They could stay submerged for up to two weeks and reach speeds of up to 17 knots. 

Despite their size and power, the W class was plagued by mechanical problems, and only eight were ever built. Nevertheless, they played an important role in both world wars and remained some of the most famous submarines in history.

24. J Class

During World War I, the J class was a class of five submarines built for the Royal Navy. Vickers designed the class and laid their keels between 1915 and 1916. 

They were launched in 1917 and 1918 and served until 1945. All five boats were lost during the war, with three sunk by enemy action and two scuttled to prevent capture.

25. E Class

Deep beneath the waves, a silent predator lurks. The E-class submarine is one of the British arsenal’s most advanced and feared weapons. These vessels are designed for stealth and secrecy, carrying out their missions in the shadows.

Equipped with high-grade steel and soundproofing, these submarines are nearly undetectable. They can carry up to eight torpedo tubes which can fire torpedoes or be used as launch pads for mines or special forces.

26. H Class

The H class was one of the most successful British submarine classes used by the British during this time. These submarines were relatively small and could be easily hidden underwater, making them difficult for the enemy to detect.

Conclusion

There are a lot of British submarine classes, each with unique capabilities and features. While some are better suited for shallow waters, others are designed for deep-sea exploration. But all have one thing in common: they’re built for stealth. 

Thanks to their advanced technology, these submarines can evade detection and stay hidden for extended periods.

So the next time you’re wondering what’s lurking beneath the surface, remember that there’s a good chance it’s one of these sleek and silent machines.

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