Spain has launched the first submarine designed and built entirely in the country.
Christened on Thursday by the Princess of Asturias, the S-81 ‘Isaac Peral’ represents a firm commitment to national technological development and will enable the strategic independence of Spanish defense to be guaranteed, as well as the overseas profile of its industry, the Spanish government said.
Spain’s Minister for Defense Margarita Robles underlined the unique nature of this day in history by expressing gratitude and recognizing the “effort from all those who built this masterpiece”, from the workers at Navantia, the Navy and its crew of submariners, as well as the people of Cartagena.
“I would also like to thank all those at the Secretariat of Defense, led here today by the State Secretary for Defense, Esperanza Casteleiro, her predecessor, Ángel Olivares, the Director-General for Armaments, Admiral Santiago González, and the head of this program, Captain Del Corral”, she said.
“In such an important year for the Spanish Navy, as we celebrate the 5th Centenary of the First Circumnavigation of the Globe, this is another encouraging milestone that demonstrates everything that Spain is capable of and that Spain sets an example for the world”, stressed the Spanish Minister on “this great day that should be celebrated”, she concluded.
Margarita Robles also expressly mentioned the Chief of Defence Staff (Spanish acronym: JEMAD), Admiral General Teodoro López Calderón, and the Admiral Chief of the Navy Staff (Spanish acronym: AJEMA), Admiral General Antonio Martorell, who attended the event and were heavily involved in the S-80 program.
The Admiral Chief of the Navy Staff shared that feeling of pride and satisfaction “upon seeing the fruit of so many years of hard work” and concluded by recognizing “the spirit of sacrifice and selflessness shown by Spanish submariners, marines, men and women represented here today by the first crew of the S-81 who serve Spain from the deep”.
The ceremony, which took place according to health safety measures, was also attended by numerous national, regional and municipal civilian authorities, as well as ambassadors from five countries, who were received by the Chairman of Navantia, Ricardo Domínguez, and the Chairwoman of SEPI [the State company for industrial holdings], Belén Gualda.
The event also commemorated the centenary of the launch of the first submarine at the Cartagena shipyard, the B-1. Of the 39 submarines that have served or still serve in the Submarine Arm of the Spanish Navy over its 106 years of history, 27 of them have set sail from the facilities in Cartagena.
Cutting-edge technology and economic impact
The S-80 will be the most advanced conventional (non-nuclear) submarines in the world. They will have a total length of 80.8 metres, a diameter of 7.3 metres and an immersion displacement of approximately 3,000 tonnes.
Once launched, they will begin port testing activities and sea trials that include surface navigation and immersion to their maximum depth. The first voyage is scheduled for the start of 2022 and delivery to the Navy will take place one year later.
Other submersibles will arrive subsequently named after other pioneers of submarine navigation: the S-82 ‘Narciso Monturiol” in 2024; the S-83 ‘Cosme García’ in 2026 and the S-84 ‘Mateo García de los Reyes’ in 2028.
The design of these submarines is more similar to that of a spacecraft than a surface ship. They are designed to operate autonomously and extremely stealthily for long periods of time thanks to a revolutionary air-independent propulsion system that enables electricity to be generated and stored.
Furthermore, the S-80 program represents a boost to the economy and employment as some 100 companies in 11 autonomous regions of Spain are involved, creating direct, indirect and induced jobs for more than 6,000 people and an annual impact on Spanish GDP in excess of 250 million euros.