The Royal Navy has unveiled a number of futuristic submarine concepts, looking forward to well beyond 2050 to mark the 100th anniversary of the launch of the USS Nautilus, the world’s first nuclear powered submarine.
The Royal Navy’s submarine service, often known as the ‘silent service,’ challenged some of the UK’s brightest and most talented young engineers to radically re-envision what a submarine might look like and how they could be used to protect British assets or to destroy potential enemies.
Unlike the submarines of today which satisfy multiple roles in one hull, MOD’s director general Nuclear envisages the Navy operating a family of submarines, of varying sizes and shapes, manned and unmanned, to fulfill the various tasks they are asked to perform.
From a crewed mothership with whale shark/manta ray characteristics, via unmanned eels able to eject autonomous sensor pods which dissolve on demand once their mission is completed, through to mini-UUVs that swarm like flying fish against enemy targets, the graduates and apprentices imagined how to take complex systems, simplify them and apply rapidly developing technology to make submarines easier to construct, more effective and cheaper to run, the Royal Navy explained.
Minister for Defence Procurement, Harriet Baldwin said:
“This project is aimed squarely at the wider UK prosperity agenda and challenging our young people to come up with ideas and innovation to keep our nation at the top table. 2017 is more than the year of the Navy in terms of current operations and equipment, we want to inspire the next generation of sailors, scientists and engineers to a career in the underwater domain.”
Director Submarine Capability, Rear Admiral Tim Hodgson said:
“We want to encourage our engineers of the future to be bold, to think radically and to push boundaries. The pace of global innovation is only going to increase, so for the UK be a leader in this race it needs to maintain its leadership in skills and technology.”