All Royal Navy Attack Submarines Down for Repairs, or Maybe Not

Graphic: The Sun

On Friday, the British tabloid The Sun reported that the Royal Navy’s entire fleet of seven attack submarines was out of service. They wrote: “Repairs and maintenance to all seven have left none to defend our waters — or monitor Russia’s relentless probes….Sources say the Navy’s three new Astute class subs, costing £1.2 billion each, are beset by problems. And the four remaining Trafalgars are said to be “on their last legs”.”

The UK’s Vanguard ballistic missile submarines, which carry Trident nuclear missiles, are reported to be in operation but according to the newspaper, it is the first time in decades the Royal Navy has no attack submarines ready.

By Friday afternoon, the UK’s Ministry of the Defense (MoD) was denying the reports, saying that they were “categorically not true.” That is also about all that the MoD would say. Which submarines were in service and where was understandably a secret.  “Where they might be is clearly sensitive operational information that the MOD will not comment on.”

If the UK attack submarine fleet is indeed out of commission, despite the statements to the contrary, they will not be the first nation to find itself with a non-operational submarine fleet.  Back in 2011, we posted about the Canadian navy’s four submarines which were all out of service.  Only a week later, we posted about the Australian fleet of six submarines which were also in no shape to put to sea. 

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