HMS Talent recently fired a torpedo at itself three times – but don’t worry, it was part of the trials process.

According to the Royal Navy, there was no risk to the submarine:

“The Trafalgar-class boat – whose mission is to hunt and, if necessary, kill hostile submarines – fired the upgraded Spearfish on the ranges near the Isle of Skye to rigorously test it before it enters service. During the three-day trial, the cutting-edge Spearfish was fired at Talent three times – and was programmed to safely pass the submarine to ensure there was no risk of the boat torpedoing herself.”

Image Crown Copyright 2021.

Commander Paul Jamieson, Commanding Officer of HMS Talent, said:

“Talent has been the host platform on two occasions for this trial and my team are proud to have had a role in this important programme. The Spearfish upgrade will ensure the submarine service continues to possess a very credible weapon system, capable of dealing with potential future threats.”

Captain John Aitken, the Spearfish Programme Director, and a former commanding officer of Talent, said:

“This trial marks the culmination of a tremendous amount of hard work from the Spearfish team and our partners in industry. The ‘Mod 1’ weapon is at the very cutting edge of torpedo technology and underscores Britain’s position as one of the global leaders in underwater capability. That Talent continues her proud tradition of delivering exactly what is required of her makes this all the more pleasing for me.”

The Royal Navy added that this was the second time Talent, the second oldest boat in the RN’s flotilla, was selected for Spearfish trials, with a Royal Navy, Defence Equipment & Support and BAE team heading aboard.

“A dummy run saw the first of four torpedoes launched into a target vessel, before three successful firings pitched Talent against herself, avoiding striking her using ‘geographical depth separation’. The torpedoes were then recovered and work is now ongoing to study the data from the trial to support decisions made in the next phases of the programme as the torpedo moves towards Initial Operating Capability.”

The operational version of the weapon will be introduced to all front-line Royal Navy submarines by 2025.

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Paul
Paul
5 months ago

Good to see us working on defence kit again. Think we’ve given the Russians and Chinese long enough to catch up and steal a march on us. Hope we see further improvements and new stuff soon. Two decades marking time can leave you rusty.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul

We’ve never stopped working on defence equipment

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Compared to the Cold War our eye has very very very much been off the ball

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago

The Astute class boats are far more capable than anything the Russians or Chinese can muster. The also don’t have any 5th gen stealth fighters to put to sea on first rate aircraft carrier’s. Don’t do ourselfs down.

Levi Goldsteinberg
Levi Goldsteinberg
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

Oh I’d never argue we don’t have terrific kit (at least in places), just that the rate of innovation then and now are leagues apart

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago

Either i need my Eyes Testing or the Camouflage is Spot on but i Didn’t Initially Spot the Wildcat in the Pic.

Jonathan
Jonathan
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

”should have gone to spec savers”

sorry could not resist.

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago
Reply to  Jonathan

Indeed lol ?

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Camouflage scheme working as intended.

heroic
heroic
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Hope you are not driving a car mate.

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Amazing camouflage, I thought it was a T class boat!

Takes WW1 disruptive camouflage to whole new level……

Sean Crowley
Sean Crowley
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

The old throw a Submarine in the foreground trick , very good way to hid a helicopter .

George
George
5 months ago

Hi folks hope all are well.
Is the spearfish one of the most advanced torpedos in its class, also can they be used against a sea shore in advance of an amphibious attack, to disrupt an enemy’s coastal installations.
Any advice from you experts as usual please.
Cheers,
George

Watcherzero
Watcherzero
5 months ago
Reply to  George

Torpedoes arent used against land targets. What a submarine would deploy to disrupt an enemy port however is mines.

Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Unfortunately we stopped using mines years ago, along with cluster bombs for the RAF. Too random when it comes to killing, which doesn’t make good PR apparently!

Frank62
Frank62
5 months ago
Reply to  Watcherzero

Or torpedo launched Tomahawk cruise missiles.

farouk
farouk
5 months ago
Reply to  George

George,
Watch Zero has answered the question regards Spearfish, however that said the UK subs can also launch tomahawk missiles which could be used to neutralise shore targets from short range prior to any amphibious assault.

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
5 months ago

Leading on from the previous article, we’re currently developing an effective and balanced surface strike capability. However, the sub-surface fleet numbers are still significantly below what prudence would dictate and what we used to field during the last cold war – we’re back in that scenario unfortunately but with the Chinese a major addition to the threat calculation as well particularly via the northern routes west. I’m not yet sold on the degree to which unmanned subs will level the playing field and still look wistfully towards a number of advanced conventional boats to augment the nuclear flotilla – the… Read more »

Steve R
Steve R
5 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

We should definitely purchase or build a small fleet of AIP conventional submarines. Something like the German 214 class or Japanese Soryu class. A fraction of the cost of an Astute SSN and we could double to size of our submarine fleet.

Leave the longer-distance jobs to the Astutes, and have AIPs cover the North Atlantic, North Sea, GIUK gap and even the Mediterranean. We could even permanently forward-base one at HMS Juffair.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

If we had the kind of spare cash and manpower available for a new fleet of subs, I’d rather that money be spent on more Astute class boats. What’s the point of spending a load more cash for inferior capability.

John Clark
John Clark
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

The problem Robert, it’s the only way of building up sub numbers in the short term. It will take many years before BAE systems can start next generation SSN production.

A modern fleet of 6 SSK’s could be procured relatively quickly and it would be a serious asset.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  John Clark

For a start there isn’t any requirement to expand the submarine fleet. And it’s never quick and cheap to bring 6 SSK’s into service. Manning for a start, support and logistics contracts, infrastructure requirements at Faslane. It’s never cheap. If we had any spare cash for submarines, better to buy a couple more Astute class. And any extra funding for submarines would Rob another vital project of funds.

lee1
lee1
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

To be fair the smaller AIP boats are much better in some situations. For instance they can get far closer to the shore and then hide in the noise of the water. They are very very stealthy. Having some of those would not cost huge amounts and would give more capability.

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
5 months ago
Reply to  lee1

I mate. I understand they are great bits of kit, but we have survived nearly 30 years without SSK’s. I guess the RN doesn’t see a urgent requirement for them.

lee1
lee1
5 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

With China becoming a serious threat and the South China sea being probably too shallow to operate large nuclear subs, I am sure they would like some…

Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

It might seem counter intuitive but you’re better using the smaller AIP boats in places like the Gulf rather than the North Atlantic. Use smaller boats for intel etc as they can get in closer on sneakies and let the A boats to prowl the deep stuff, even if it is on the door step relatively speaking.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

The Gulf is around 60m deep over the most part of it. A bit deeper around the Straights.
Fly high enough and have a good pair of polarizing sun glasses on and you can see to the bottom. Not ideal waters for a sub to operate in.
UK SSKs did so in GW1 way up at the top but they where there for int and SF work. They even had a natty camo job on the hull to make it difficult to spot from above.

opossum.jpg
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Never seen that photo. Fascinating.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 months ago

That photo, or similar, was in the press.

@Gunbuster you have access to a remarkable archive…….MOD should be paying you for your RN PR work setting the record straight.

Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Sneakies in the Gulf didn’t end with GW1 mate.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

I can neither confirm nor deny…if i did I would have to Shred myself!

Frank62
Frank62
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

Quite so. Stealthier than nuclear subs too.

Martin Dukes
Martin Dukes
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

I agree it would be great to add this capacity but where could they built? I understand Barrow is already completely booked up.

Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  Martin Dukes

The last time we built any SSKs were the 4 Upholders in the late 80’s early 90’s. The first was built in Barrow alongside Talent and Vanguard, the other 3 were built in Birkenhead, we ended up selling them to Canada in the late 90’s.
I don’t think we are in a position to build any SSKs anytime soon for various reasons. If money were available, then we would probably have to buy from abroad or buy in the design and expertise to build them here.

Branaboy
Branaboy
5 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

British firm BMT has a number of submarine designs/concepts that management has been shopping around and I think are worth looking at specifically the Vidar-36 (also referred to as the SSGT fuel cell concept). This design is an 80 meters in length with displacements of around 4,000 tons.

Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  Branaboy

Wasn’t aware of that, tavm for info.

Branaboy
Branaboy
5 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

BMT also 2 smaller ask designs, the Vider-7 and Wyvern. These are 50 meter 750 ton displacement boats requiring crews of around 36.

David Flandry
David Flandry
5 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

If you can build an SSN you can build an SSK. Might have to get some parts from abroad at first, but this capability should never have been allowed to disappear.
The RN needs 8 SSNs and about 6 SSKs. It had 12 SSNs just a few years ago.

Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  David Flandry

Its not as simple as thay im afraid. If building in Barrow, then probably yes, but any other yard in the UK, then not so straight forward, you would need the skilled workforce for starters, you cant just open a box of them with experience in SM construction.
No, we should never have lost this capability, but unfortunately we have. Not only 12 SSNs, but also some 10 Oberon class SSKs, but then ahsin, we had a much larger fleet too!

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

And you think how ancient the Oberon’s design was by the time it was retired, WWII vintage hull design, and how small they were. But they were very, very quiet for the time.

I am not sure I would have wanted to be on a 2,000t sub down south in ’82 but Onyx was there!

It is worth remembering that there were 5 nuclear submarines involved in Corporate apart from the Oberon which was conventionally powered.

On reflection I would say our biggest weakness is the number of nuclear summaries that we can field.

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 months ago
Reply to  Steve R

No such place as HMS Juffair.

Its UKNSF (UK Naval Support Facility) Bahrain or it was 2 days ago when I was inside it!

Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

Agree with both points raised, I personally don’t believe that unmanned subs will level the playing field anytime soon, as already stated, UKPLC won’t be arming them. That leaves them to conduct a surveillance role-which is currently a difficult task in itself. I think that we are not helping ourselves by not investing in SSKs to supplement our SSN fleet, you would get some 5 or so modern SSKs for the price of 2 SSNs with a bit to spare, and crew wise the numbers would be about the same. Alas, money or the lack of it and other priorities… Read more »

Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

Its not just cash, speaking to a mate who’s on a boat and things are grim manning wise. They’re having to bribe lads with their rate to keep them in.

Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

Have to agree, manning has slowly been eroding over the years, certainly since before I left. Part is conditions, part pay, and part is the job itself. Takes a certain type to enjoy it and stick at it. It will probably get worse before things improve.

Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

I think pay is sometimes used as an excuse but for me its generally been about the ‘conditions’ side of it. Being lied to, being taken for granted the ‘life in a blue suit’ approach. I think for many its a trickle of small stuff that just builds up. If the navy started genuinely regarding their people then more would stay. For me 22 was very much a finishing line, I couldn’t wait to go. Another mate was recently ‘pier head jumped’ onto a work up for a boat covering for the rate above him, fair enough, pier head jumps… Read more »

Frank62
Frank62
5 months ago
Reply to  Andy P

How about clapping them?

Seriously though, we need to pay better & treat better those in vital jobs rather than rock & sports stars, minor “celebreties” & greedy execs. Those who put their lives on the line or save lives or educate us etc have beeen treated shamefully too long.

Andy P
Andy P
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

I like the sound of your world Frank but it ain’t gonna happen and in fairness, most boys don’t join the forces to become millionaires. More money is always nice of course but for a lot of guys not the prime motivation. Guys leave for a number of reasons but ultimately (like a lot of jobs I suppose) its frustration, if you work in most occupations you can move to another company but you’re kind of stuck when in the forces and it can become ‘all or nothing’, once you get the idea in your head that you want away… Read more »

Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
5 months ago
Reply to  Gavin Gordon

For those puzzled by my ‘previous article’ reference; that concerns the QE carriers and’s on Navy Lookout not UKDJ. Forgive confusion!

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 months ago

Geographical depth seperation… They add minus meters to the targeting computer so that it aims at the targets sweet spot but actually passes under it.

A similar thing was used with Sting Ray during its early trials. They apparently got it wrong and the torpedo kept hitting the sub circled around again and hit it again and again and again until the battery ran out. Glad to see they got it right this time.

Frank62
Frank62
5 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Doh!… ,,,,Doh!… …Doh!…

Gunbuster
Gunbuster
5 months ago
Reply to  Frank62

If I remember correctly it was an S Boat. We spoke to them afterwards …they where not happy!

Deep32
Deep32
5 months ago
Reply to  Gunbuster

Believe it was HMS Spartan, she was fitted out as trials boat for most of 80’s early 90’s, had a propulser guard fitted for the very purpose.

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
5 months ago
Reply to  Deep32

It was.

Kizzy p
5 months ago

If I was the captain of that sub I would have had the chap that programmed it onboard !!!!

Frank62
Frank62
5 months ago

Yey, we’ve invented the underwater Boomerang.

Nick Bowman
Nick Bowman
5 months ago

How effective are hard-kill anti-torpedo defence systems? The Russians deploy those, and I’m sure that the Chinese have at least considered doing the same. Our attack subs have only one type of weapon for use against submarines and surface ships. Do our potential enemies have a reliable counter?

lee1
lee1
5 months ago
Reply to  Nick Bowman

The spearfish is very stealthy and very fast… which makes it hard to combat. As opposed to the Russian torpedoes that are faster but incredibly loud and give away not only their own position but that of the host submarine! Also the upgrade they are testing includes very advance anti jamming and defence evasion components.

If I were an enemy sub I would not be comfortable if I knew a spearfish could be shot at me.

Mike
Mike
5 months ago

HMS Talent is 30 years old I see and due to be decommissioned this year.

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike

Yes that is the Case, Stranger that She has had some New Technology Fitted.

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Strange even!

Captain P Wash
Captain P Wash
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Stranger than Strange, it appears.

David Barry
David Barry
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike

I could say that they’ve been running them into the ground… unfortunately, that has been quite true.

Numbers are just too low in both platforms and personnel, perhaps?

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago
Reply to  Mike
Daniele Mandelli
Daniele Mandelli
5 months ago
Reply to  Paul T

Yes, I thought of this when you mentioned above.

Mike
Mike
5 months ago

Somebody must have read the end of the Hunt for Red October.
can we get on with other major projects now like the Escan radar for our Typhoons and the Challenger upgrade, I have a feeling we might need them soon.

geoff
geoff
5 months ago

I am sure many of you are familiar with the story of the loss of the USS Scorpion. Although never proven, a close friend who is a retired submariner who served as a First Engineer on a US Nuclear submarine says that the accidental firing of one of her own torpedos and it’s subsequent homing in on its host as the nearest target, was accepted as the most likely cause of her loss with all hands.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
5 months ago

And the Japanese have managed to ram an HK boat with a sub. Norwegian navigation catching on?

Telegraph

“Japanese submarine collides with commercial ship while surfacing in Pacific Ocean”

Paul T
Paul T
5 months ago

Some Speculation on What Might have Gone Wrong – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=httacbcqfE4