12 May, 2021

Presentation of the submarine S81, the first entirely designed and built in Spain

Her Majesty the King, accompanied by Her Majesty the Queen and her Royal Highnesses the Princess of Asturias and the Infanta Sofia, presided on April 22nd the ceremony of afloat of the S-81, the first submarine of the S-80 series, at the Navantia shipyard in Cartagena.

The S-81, named ‘Isaac Peral’ after the inventor from Cartagena, is the first submarine designed and built entirely in Spain and is therefore a clear commitment to national technological development, which will enhance the strategic independence of the country’s defense and the international projection of the Spanish industrial capacity.

With this program, Spain enters the small group of ten countries that have the capacity to design and build submarines, a hugely complex challenge since these are ships that must operate autonomously in a hostile environment. Therefore, they require highly specialized knowledge in diverse disciplines and an extremely qualified industrial and technological support base.

The S-80 program is the biggest industrial and technological challenge faced by the national defense industry and with which Navantia makes a huge technological leap.

State-of-the-art technology

The S-80 submarines will have a total length of 80.8 meters, a diameter of 7.3 meters and an immersion displacement of about 3,000 tons. Among its technological contributions are the combat and platform control system of Navantia Sistemas, and a revolutionary anaerobic propulsion system developed by Navantia that provides great stealth in immersion, called BEST-AIP. This atmosphere-independent propulsion system will allow to obtain electrical energy, from fuel cells using technology from the aerospace sector, at any depth. Thus, it can stay for weeks without going out at periscopic level, which will improve the discretion, the main attribute of a submarine.

The S-80s will therefore be the world’s most advanced conventional (non-nuclear) submarines, piqued the interest of several marinas from other countries and opened a door to the international market in a highly technological sector.

Impact on the economy and employment

The S-80 program has been a qualitative leap for Navantia, which is at the top of the international conventional submarine market, with active offerings in several countries. It is also for the auxiliary industry, as the S-80 program involves a hundred companies from 11 different areas.

It generates direct, indirect and induced employment for more than 6,000 people and an annual impact on Spanish GDP (direct, indirect and induced contribution) of more than 250 million euros, of which more than 80 million are direct contribution to regional GDP (1% of Murcia’s GDP).