Vanguard class submarine

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Vanguard class submarine

Test launch of a Trident D5 SLBM

The Royal Navy's Vanguard class of nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), each armed with 16 Trident II SLBMs, includes four boats: Vanguard (S28), Victorious (S29), Vigilant (S30), and Vengeance (S31), all built by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd, now BAE Systems Submarines.

The Vanguard Class was designed from the outset as a nuclear powered ballistic missile submarine, unlike the previous Resolution class which was adapted from the then existing Valiant class SSN. At more than 150 metres long and 16,000 tons submerged displacement the Vanguards are roughly twice the size of the Resolutions, and are the third largest submarines ever built, by surfaced displacement,after the Russian Typhoon and American Ohio classes. The great increase in size is largely related to much larger size of the Trident D-5 missile as compared to Polaris. The Vanguards were designed and built at Barrow-in-Furness by Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Limited (VSEL). The Devonshire dock hall was built specifically to build these submarines. The missile compartment is based on the system used on the Ohio class, though only 16 missiles are carried rather than the 24 of the Ohio. In addition to the missile tubes the Vanguard class is fitted with four 533 mm (21 inch) torpedo tubes and carries the Spearfish heavyweight torpedo, allowing it to engage submerged or surface targets at ranges up to 65 kilometres (40 miles). Two SSE Mark 10 launchers are also fitted to allow the boats to deploy Type 2066 and Type 2071 decoys, and a UAP Mark 3 electronic support measures (ESM) intercept system is fitted. Vanguard, Victorious, Vigilant and Vengeance were commissioned in 1993, 1995, 1996 and 1999 respectively.

Vanguard carries the Thales Underwater Systems Type 2054 composite sonar. The Type 2054 is a multi-mode, multi-frequency system, which incorporates the 2046, 2043 and 2082 sonars. The fleet is in the process of having their sonars refitted to include open architecture processing using commercial off the shelf technology. A Type 2043 hull-mounted active/passive search sonar is also carried, as is a Type 2082 passive intercept and ranging sonar. Finally a Type 2046 towed array is carried. This operates at very low frequency, giving a passive search capability. Two periscopes are carried, a CK51 search model and a CH91 attack model. Both have a TV camera and thermal imager as well as conventional optics. A Type 1007 I-band navigation radar is also carried.

A new pressurised water reactor, the PWR 2, was designed for the Vanguard class. This has double the service life of previous models, and it is estimated that a Vanguard class submarine could circumnavigate the world 40 times without refuelling. This should allow the class to carry out their entire service life without the need for expensive refuelling. The reactor drives two GEC turbines linked

to a single shaft pump jet propulsor. This propulsion system gives the Vanguards a maximum submerged speed of 25 knots. There are two Paxman diesel alternators and two turbo generators from WH Allen.

The total acquisition costs of the Trident programme are £12.57 billion (at 1996-97 prices), which is over £3.6 billion lower in real terms than the original 1982 estimate. Government estimates put the cost of the entire Trident program at approximately £200 million per year over a 30 year in-service life. This estimate includes manpower, stores, refits, transport, shore facilities, decommissioning and disposal costs plus some of the expense of the Atomic Weapons Establishment.

UK nuclear policy
The principle of operation is based on maintaining deterrent effect by always having at least one submarine at sea, and was designed for the Cold War period. One submarine is normally undergoing maintenance and the remaining two in port or on training exercises. According to the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, UK SSBN patrols are believed to be co-ordinated with the French - this assertion has not been repeated elsewhere and is widely believed to be false. They were "detargeted" in 1994 in time for their first maiden voyage. Each submarine carries 16 Trident II D-5 missiles, which can each carry up to twelve warheads (i.e. a potential of 192 warheads). However, the British government announced in 1998 that each submarine would carry only 48 warheads (halving the limit specified by the previous government), which is an average of three per missile. However one or two missiles per submarine are probably armed with fewer warheads for "sub-strategic" use causing others to be armed with more. The British-designed warheads are thought to be selectable between 0.3 kt, 5-10 kt and 100 kt; the yields obtained using either the unboosted primary, the boosted primary, or the entire "physics package". The United Kingdom has purchased the rights to 58 missiles under the Polaris Sales Agreement (modifed for Trident) from a jointly maintained "pool". These missiles are fitted with UK-built warheads and are exchanged when requiring maintenance. Under the terms of the agreement the United States does not have any veto on the use of British nuclear weapons.

Table 1 Vanguard class — significant dates Test launch Maiden Name Launched Commissioned Test launch 1 2 patrol HMS Vanguard March 1992 August 1993 May 26, 1994 June 20, December (S28) 1994 1994 HMS Victorious September August 22, December January 1995 July 24, 1995 (S29) 1993 1995 1995 HMS Vigilant October November October 10, October 10, June 1998 (S30) 1995 1996 1997 1997 HMS September November September 21, February Vengeance 1998 1999 2000 2001 (S31) The Trident missile agreement was reached in 1982 as a modification of the Polaris Sales Agreement. At the time it was envisaged the entire project; four submarines, the missiles, new facilites at Coulport and Faslane and a 5% contribution to Trident research and development, would cost £5 billion. The option for a fifth submarine was discussed at the time. The submarines were built in specially constructed facilites at Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd, subsequently GEC Marine (VSEL) and BAE Systems Marine (VSEL), Barrow-in-Furness, Cumbria. The Trident II D-5 achieved an initial operational capability with the U.S. Navy in March 1990. Following launch and commissioning the vessels deployed on Demonstration and Shakedown Operations (DASOs). The major part of this was the test firing of Trident missiles at the United States' SLBM Launch Area, Eastern Test Range, Cape Canaveral, off the coast of Florida (see table above). In the Strategic Defence Review published in July 1998, the British Government stated that once the Vanguard submarines became fully operational (the fourth and final one, Vengeance, entered service on 27 November 1999), it would "maintain a stockpile of fewer than 200 operationally available warheads". The Stockholm International Peace Research Institute has estimated the figure as 185. At the same time, the British Government indicated that warheads "required to provide a necessary processing margin and for technical surveillance purposes" were not included in the "fewer than 200" figure. Many estimates for the total number of warheads are around 200; for instance the Natural Resources Defense Council believes that this figure is accurate to within a few tens. The World Almanac suggests the number is between 200 and 300.

General characteristics
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Displacement: 15,900 tons submerged Length: 149.9 meters Beam: 12.8 meters Draught: 12 meters Complement: 14 officers, 121 ratings Propulsion: PWR2 reactor Armament: o 16 missile tubes capable of firing Trident II (D5) missiles o four torpedo tubes capable of firing Spearfish torpedoes  Sensors: o sonar (bow array, active intercept, and towed arrays) o periscopes: (attack and two search periscopes) o collision avoidance radar  Command System: o SMCS at introduction of service o SMCS-NG from 2006 onwards