Following the closure of the pressure hull of the first submarine in the class, the S81 “Isaac Peral”, the S80 Program passed another milestone by successfully completing the final tests for the development of the AIP system. According to Navantia, this AIP system will provide the Spanish Navy with unmatched tactical capabilities and discretion.
Fuel cell AIP System
Conventional submarines require frequent snorkeling operations to recharge their batteries with diesel engines, which makes them vulnerable to detection and attack. The AIP System will minimize this indiscretion by recharging the submarine’s batteries while remaining in immersion with a fuel cell, which uses hydrogen produced through bioethanol and oxygen processing to generate electricity, allowing the submarine to sail for weeks without surfacing.
Having this technology adapted to the demanding needs of an underwater platform within the established deadlines has been a challenge for the S80 Program. To guarantee its success, Spain’s Ministry of Defense decided to entrust the development of two bioethanol processors, one of the most complex elements of the system, to two Spanish companies in parallel: Abengoa Innovation and Técnicas Reunidas. Both companies have demonstrated a great technological capacity by successfully fulfilling all the milestones, requirements and deadlines established by the program.
After a rigorous decision-making process, where all the technical and programmatic factors have been analyzed, the Spanish Ministry of Defense has selected the Abengoa system as the optimal solution to be fitted aboard the S80 Class submarines. The first submarine that will have this operating system will be the S83, “Cosme García”. The AIP system will be installed in July 2021. The submarines S81 and S82, currently under construction, will be upgraded with the AIP module in their first scheduled major overhaul period.
About the S80 SSK
The S80 class (or Isaac Peral class) are AIP (air independent propulsion) submarines currently under construction for the Spanish Navy. Four boats have been ordered, all are under construction by Navantia at its yard in Cartagena. Construction of the submarines had been suspended in early 2013, when it was found that the first submarine in the series, the Isaac Peral, was 75 to 100 tons too heavy relative to its length. General Dynamics Electric Boat was brought in by Navantia through a Foreign Military Sale in 2013 to tackle the weight distribution issues. Each submarine has been stretched with a 10 meters ring to better distribute the weight of the submarine. The intended delivery date of the first submarine is December 2022.
S80 Specifications (baseline)
Displacement: 2200 tons
Length: 71.05 meters
Beam: 11.68 meters
S80 Plus Specifications (stretched)
Displacement: 3000 tons
Length: 80.81 meters
Beam: 11.68 meters