royalnavy.mod.ukTop Class Employer with Top Class People
Royal NavyRoyal Navy

Fleet Submarines

Tomahawk missile firing from a Royal Navy Submarine
HMS Tireless at Gibraltar
HMS Spartan leaving Faslane

SSN - Fleet Submarines

The SSN (Ship Submersible Nuclear), or Fleet Submarines contribute to peace and security by providing a conventional deterrence to anyone or nation that may pose a threat to world stability. They combine qualities of stealth, endurance and flexibility. These characteristics afford the SSN an unparalleled freedom to operate world-wide, SSNs can act independently or in support of a surface ship task group and or land operations.


The SSNs of the Swiftsure and Trafalgar Class are extremely sophisticated, deep diving, high-speed submarines, capable of fulfilling a range of maritime military tasks undreamed of by the strategists of previous generations.


Co-ordinated high intensity strike

The Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile (TLAM) is in service and was fired from HMS SPLENDID in the Kosovo conflict in 1999. This weapon allows the SSN to influence the land battle by posing a threat in the period prior to hostilities and, after hostilities commence, the use of highly accurate and lethal warhead against important targets which may otherwise be relatively invulnerable.

Anti Submarine and Surface Unit Warfare

Arguably the most important role of the submarine, the SSN has an unrivalled capability to seek out and destroy other submarines that may pose a threat to any friendly force. The SSN also has a well-proven capability to detect and attack surface forces. The spearfish torpedo can be used against other submarines or surface ships. This capabilities can be used when the SSN is acting independently or in support of a task force. The SSN is used to great effect when the submarine is deployed in advance of friendly forces in order to reduce the flexibility of an opposition force by denying the use of an area or region. This is known as regional sea denial.


The ability to approach close to oppositions forces and monitor their operations and movements whilst remaining undetected is a classic capability of the submarine. This surveillance can include underwater photography, sometimes of surface warships, who will almost certainly be unaware of the submarine's presence.

Inshore and Beach Reconnaissance

Using modern video technology or digital photography a submarine, able to approach a coastline in shallow water, can make a significant contribution to the intelligence collection effort prior to any subsequent maritime or land action.