British Royal Navy Valiant/Churchill class, SSN
HMS Valiant, S-102, and her sister ship Warspite, S-103, used reactors based on the prototype developed at Dounray in Scotland by Rolls-Royce and the Atomic Energy Authority, and hence were the first truly British nuclear submarines. Unlike Dreadnought greater attention was paid to noise reduction rather than speed and an emergency diesel electric drive was fitted for silent running, slitter larger than Dreadnought and a fractionally larger crew, 116, were the only major differences in terms of specification.
Valiant was laid down in Vickers, Barrow, on January 22, 1962; launched on December 3, and commissioning on July 18, 1966. Valiant joined the Third Submarine Squadron at Faslane.
In April 1967 she completed a 28 day journey from the UK to Singapore. The duration of the journey, 12,000 n/miles, was spent submerged, which was then a record for a British submarine. Valiant entered a refit at Chatham Dockyard in 1970 and upon recommissioning on May 12, 1972 she became the first submarine of a new Squadron based at Devonport. In 1977 she began a second refit at Chatham, which included a refuel. Valiant recommissioned into the Third Submarine Squadron in 1980. In 1982 she participated in the Falklands Conflict. In 1989 Valiant emerged from a third refit, this time at Rosyth Dockyard in Scotland.
Valiant remained in service longer than any of the early nuclear boats and in her career traveled an impressive 576,754 nautical miles, spending 53,840 hours at sea. However, in June 1994 Valiant developed engine problems whilst returning from a trip to the USA and was paid off August 12, 1994. Laid up at Devonport Valiant has been open to the public a number of times at Navy Days and Dockyard Fayres. Once her reactor core is removed she will be raised out of the water and put on permanent public display.
Warspite was launched on September 25, 1965. She paid off at a joint ceremony with HMS Conqueror, S-48, at Devonport in 1991 and has remained at Devonport.
Work on further units of the Valiant Class was suspended as emphasis switched to the production of Resolution class SSBN-ballistic missile submarines. However as the Polaris project neared completion; three new nuclear powered submarines were laid down - Churchill and Courageous at Vickers and Conqueror at Cammell Laird.
Specifications, Valiant/Churchill class:
With a Rolls-Royce reactor considered the first truly British nuclear submarines. Like previous British nuclear submarines they have a ‘teardrop hull’. The fin has been strengthened and the hydroplanes can be retracted to allow the submarine to surface through ice.
Displacement (srf/sub tons): 4,800/5,300
Dimensions (L*B*D feet): 285`0*32`3*27`0
Propulsion: Rolls-Royce Pressurized Water Reactor (PWR-1) 15,000hp, 2*GEC geared steam turbine, one screw
Speed (sub knots): 30
Range (srf/sub miles@knots): not relevant
Diving depth (feet): 1000
Complement: 14 officers 102 enlisted
Missile: capable of launching Mc Donnell Douglas Sub Harpoon, SSM sub-launched anti-ship missiles
Torpedo: 6*21" (533 mm) bow torpedo tubes, can fire Spearfish and Tigerfish torpedoes, total of 20 torpedoes or missiles reloads.
Mines: two Stonefish or Sea Urchin can be carried in place of one torpedo
A class of five boats (2 Valiant+3 Churchill) was ordered from Vickers Shipbuilding & Engineering Ltd (VSEL) and Cammell Laird, Birkenhead. Tigerfish torpedoes and Sub Harpoon capabilities were added later on during retrofits.
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