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ANTONY PRESTON, JOHN BATCHELOR
French Daphne Class. Like the British Oberons, the Daphne Class has proved a successful export to foreign navies, despite the fact that three have been lost in accidents. The eleven boats came into service between 1964 and 1970. Displacement: 869 tons (surfaced) Armament: Twelve 21·7-in (550-mm) torpedo-tubes (8 forward, 4 aft); at least 16 torpedoes carried Speed: 12,5 knots (surfaced) 16 knots (submerged)
TheSwedish Navy had not suffered any loss, being neutral in the Second World War, but to maintain that neutrality it was necessary to keep abreast of developments. The Sjölojenet Class was streamlined and modernised, and four new classes were built. Of these the Sjöormen Class is the latest. The other Scandinavian, navies also continued the tradition of building submarines in their own yards. The exception was Finland, which had to pay a heavy price for being on the wrong side in the war, and was forbidden to possess submarines.
The other Baltic navy to get back into the submarine business was, inevitably.
Germany. In 1956 two sunken Type XXIII boats were salvaged and reconditioned for training duties as the Hai and Hecht. A third the former Type XXI U2540, was in 1960 recommissioned as the Wilhelm Bauer, and has been used for research purposes. The first indigenous design appeared in 1961, when U1 was launched at Kiel but U1 and U2 had to be rebuilt to remedy structural weakness.
Dutch Dolfijn Class. These four submarines are unique in having a hull comprising three cylinders arranged in a triangular shape. This gives greater roominess without sacrificing strength for deep diving. The upper cylinder houses the crew, navigational equipment and armament, while the lower cylinders contain the propulsion machinery. Displacement: 1,494 tons (surfaced). Armament: Eight 21-in torpedo tubes (4 forward, 4 aft); 16 torpedoes carried Speed: 14,5 knots (surfaced), 17 knots (submerged)
Meanwhile the Americans had been developing the concept of the "hunter-killer" submarine, using ultra-sensitive listening gear and improved Asdic, known as Sonar in the USN. The submarine makes a good anti-submarine weapon, primarily because she is operating in the same medium as her quarry, but perfection of the techniques had to wait for new silent-running motors and efficient tracking gear. A serious disadvantage is that she has to operate virtually "blind", without the rapid communication and readily accessible visual data available to surface ships. But the real weakness is that despite all the improvements in propulsion and streamlining, a "fast" underwater submarine is only fast for a matter of hours, and must slow down before she exhausts her batteries. Until nuclear power was a reality, this was the obstacle to further progress.
The first water-cooled reactor was ready in 1952, when the USS Nautilus was begun. It took submarine propulsion back nearly 50 years to the days of the French and British steam-powered submarines, for the only way to use the heat of a nuclear reactor is to convert water to steam. Thus the Nautilus was driven by twin-shaft geared steam turbines, which developed 13,400 shaft horsepower and drove her at approximately 20 knots underwater. Her size inevitably made her clumsier than any wartime submarine, but it had its hidden advantages; only a large hull could provide the crew comfort necessary to support the high endurance provided by nuclear propulsion. In other words, the designers had come up against an old truism in submarine design: that crew efficiency is related to size, and even if a much smaller reactor could have been produced, the crew of a smaller submarine could not cruise submerged for extended periods.