Spain’s £1.75billion submarine programme is torpedoed after realising near-complete vessel is 70 tonnes too heavy because engineer put decimal point in the wrong place
- Experts fear that the Isaac Peral will not surface again if sent to sea
- The mistake will cost £9million over three years to rectify
- A US company is to present a range of options to Spanish officials
- The project could be set back two years by the error
A £1.75 billion Spanish submarine project has run aground after officials realised that the vessel is more than 70 tonnes too heavy – because an engineer put a decimal point in the wrong place.
A former Spanish official has described the mistake, which has led to fears that the submarine might not resurface if sent to sea, as ‘fatal’.
The Isaac Peral, the first in a new class of diesel electric submarines, was almost complete when the problem was noticed.
Spain will now pay US Navy contractor Electric Boat £9million over three years to assess the issue and carry out the work required to correct it, according to the Spanish Defence Ministry.
Rafael Bardaji, former director of the Office of Strategic Assessment at Spain’s Defense Ministry said that officials will review options suggested by Electric Boat.
But he said the preference has been to extend the length of the submarine’s hull, perhaps by 5 to 6 meters, to increase buoyancy.
Otherwise, the weight of the 2,200 tonne submarine would have to be reduced, and he said the Spanish Navy would not want to compromise features such as the combat system or an air-independent propulsion system.
Electric Boat, the primary contractor for the U.S. Navy’s fleet of nuclear submarines, accepted the contract through a foreign military sales agreement between the American Navy and the Spanish Defense Ministry, the U.S. Naval Sea Systems Command announced this week.
THE ISAAC PERAL SUBMARINE
The submarine project has cost the Spanish some £1.75billion so far. But what exactly are they getting for their money with the SSK submarine:
- Weight: 2,200 tonnes (surfaced) / 2,426 tonnes submerged)
- Length: 71,05 metres
- Power: 3 x diesel engines, 1 x electric engine, 1 x AIP reactor
- Speed: 12 knots (14mph) surfaced / 19 knots (22mph) submerged
- Complement: Space for three officers, four subofficers, 25 sailors and eight special forces soldiers
- Armament: 6 x 533mm torpedo launchers, DM2/A4 Torpedos, Mk48 Torpedos, Sub-Harpoon Block II missiles, Tomahawk TacTom Cruise missiles (range about 1,600 km)
Electric Boat, a division of General Dynamic Corp., has helped other countries with their submarine programs.
It began assisting with development of the Astute-class nuclear attack submarine for the British Royal Navy in 2003, and it is working under another foreign military sales agreement on Australia’s Collins class of submarines.
The 233ft long submarine will carry a crew of 32, along with eight special forces troops, and weapons systems for surface and anti-submarine warfare.
The Defense Ministry said technical problems are normal for projects of this scale.
It said in a statement: ‘The technology challenges that these programs face during development are much more than simple calculations.
‘All the major military programs, especially submarines, have experienced delays and often have required the support of a technology partner.’
Mr Bardaji added: ‘Apparently somebody in the calculations made a mistake in the very beginning and nobody paid attention to review the calculations.’
The Isaac Peral, named after a 19th century Spanish submarine designer, is one of four vessels in the class that are in various stages of construction. The country has invested about £1.75 billion in the program.
The first vessel was scheduled to be delivered in 2015 but the Spanish state-owned shipbuilder, Navantia, has said the weight problems could cause delays of up to two years.
Source – Daily Mail