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UK to extend two Trafalgar-class submarines in service

Two UK Royal Navy (RN) Trafalgar-class nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) are to be extended in service by up to 18 months to cover gaps caused by delays to the replacement Astute-class programme.

A senior RN sources told Janes on 24 March that HMS Talent will now serve an addition year beyond her planned retirement date in 2021 and HMS Triumph will have to serve an additional 18 months beyond her previously 2022 out of service date.

UK defence secretary Ben Wallace committed to a “seamless transition” between the two classes of nuclear-powered submarines in his Defence Command Paper, published on 22 March.

The navy source said that the two Trafalgar boats would not undergo a life extension programme to keep them in service but would receive additional “running maintenance”.

The RN currently has three Trafalgar-class and three Astute-class SSNs in service. The navy source said this mix would change within weeks: the Trafalgar-class boat, HMS Trenchant, is about to retire as the fourth Astute-class attack submarine, HMS Audacious, achieves “handover of vessel operational control” to the navy after completing contractors and acceptance trials.

According to the navy source, the entry to service of the fifth and sixth Astute-class submarines, HMS Anson and HMS Agamemnon, will now be synchronised with the retirement of the last two Trafalgar-class SSNs. It is still planned that the seventh and last Astute-class boat, HMS Agincourt, will be delivered by the end of 2026.

Talent was launched in 1988 and Triumph was launched three years later. The two submarines will operate from HM Naval Base Clyde until they retire.


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