Royal Navy Small Nuclear Submarine

JFC Fuller

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According to Cold War submarines: the design and construction of U.S. and Soviet submarines By Norman Polmar, Kenneth J. Moore:

"The Royal Navy also considered - very briefly - the possibility of a small nuclear propelled submarine"

The book mentions these in the context of midget submarines, directly after discussion of the X51 Stickleback class. However no other context is given and the book does not provide a reference for this particular statement, I was wondering if anyone has any further information, just a date would be nice!

I will also be posting this over at the never were warships forum,

Thank you in advance, sealordlawrence.
 

Grey Havoc

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Sealordlawrence, did you ever get any more details on this project?
 

Nik

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Seems to me that the sheer size of the fission pile and plumbing would limit the size of the vehicle. Perhaps they intended a thermo-electric device such as NASA use on deep-space probes ??
 

Grey Havoc

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Nik said:
Seems to me that the sheer size of the fission pile and plumbing would limit the size of the vehicle. Perhaps they intended a thermo-electric device such as NASA use on deep-space probes ??

Given the likely timeframe, they might have been considering liquid metal cooled reactors. They can be made pretty compact in theory, and are very quiet, but are something of a nightmare to operate on Naval vessels, as the Soviets found out!
 

RLBH

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The only comparable project that springs to mind is the NR-1, which although an order of magnitude larger than an X-craft, was also an order of magnitude smaller than other nuclear submarines. It seems quite possible that the RN 'considered' such a craft to see whether it could be built, and/or whether it would actually do anything worth the cost of doing so. Apparently, the answer to one or both of those questions was 'no'.
 

Grey Havoc

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Not a midget sub, but I wonder if it was related in some way?

http://www.shipbucket.com/forums/viewtopic.php?f=13&t=4407
 

Hood

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Here is the extract for the 1953 Quiet Submarine design, from Brown and Moore 'Rebuilding the Royal Navy' (2012 pbk edn), p.117.
There is no mention of nuclear propulsion, being more a series of diesel submarines with some use of re-cycling systems, probably based on German research. The references to nuclear submarines in Brown and Moore offer no insight into small designs, the earliest nuclear designs of 1950-1951 were around 2,500-4,500 tons.
 

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Grey Havoc

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Thanks Hood. Interesting, and appropriate, choice of class name for the twin screw version:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Anemoi#Boreas
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/HMS_Boreas
 

Abraham Gubler

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JFC Fuller said:
The book mentions these in the context of midget submarines, directly after discussion of the X51 Stickleback class. However no other context is given and the book does not provide a reference for this particular statement, I was wondering if anyone has any further information, just a date would be nice!

Pure speculation on my behalf but remember that the Cold War era RN X craft mission was to deploy nuclear weapons into the harbours of Soviet ports (CUDGEL). Perhaps a nuclear powered midget submarine would be to do similar but without the short range of X craft. Which required them to be towed to the vicinity of the target by another submarine. This towing would be much more difficult in the post war environment than it was during WWII.
 

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