Further delays for Spanish Navy’s S-80 submarines

Illustration: S-80 AIP submarines will replace the S-70 boats currently in service. Photo: Spanish Navy

The Spanish Navy’s new air-independent propulsion (AIP) S-80 submarines are facing another delay, according to the country’s defense minister.

During a visit to the Cartagena naval base, where the submarines will be based after delivery, defense minister Margarita Robles told reporters that the first boat would be delivered in 2022 with the final one arriving in 2027.

This is in contrast to previous statements made by Spanish defense officials where they said the submarines would be delivered between 2021 and 2025.

This is the latest in a series of complications encountered by the Spanish submarine program which was originally expected to start deliveries in 2015.

It was first discovered that submarines were too heavy to resurface after diving. The submarines’ weight is the main cause of delays and cost overruns as all four boats had been at various stages of construction when the problem was discovered in 2013. To solve the issue, shipbuilder Navantia elongated the boats by 10 meters to a new length of 81 meters.

It was recently reported that the defense ministry was forced to reconstruct submarine pens at the Cartagena naval base because of the boats’ new dimensions. This was denied by a ministry spokesperson, however, who said that upgrades of the base had been planned since 2009.

Margarita Robles visited Cartagena on July 25 to announce 16 million euros of infrastructure works at the base.

Robles further said that the Spanish council of ministers would increase the spending cap for the submarine program by next Friday. Latest estimates put the cost of the project at close to 4 billion euros, an increase of 1.7 billion compared to first estimates from 2010.

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