News & Events-The future of submarine design

In a recent thought piece Keir Gravil, Submarine Naval Architect at Frazer-Nash Consultancy, provides a high-level overview of some of the technical challenges faced by future submarine designers in his feature titled: "The Future of Submarine Design: Jack-of-All-Trades or Master of One?"

Keir discusses the recent trend in submarine design for larger vessels as a result of changes in safety, payload size, accommodation standards and modular construction methods. Since the end of the Cold War, the operational requirements of the submarine have evolved to require enhanced capability. These drivers continue to exist with the additional constraint of tighter budgets.

The advantages and disadvantages of submarine size are further explored in the article, ultimately arriving at the constraint identified by Keir as a limiting factor for larger vessels. The existing infrastructure is at its limit in handling the current generation of submarine design; larger vessels would require further expenditure on dock yards and maintenance facilities, contrary to current budgetary sentiment.

In a change of tack to the previous trend in submarine design, Keir suggests smaller and more specialised submarines may be the answer to reduce costs, while maintaining overall fleet capability. Although the development expenditure would initially be higher, Keir suggests the individual platform cost would be more affordable. This concept of specialised submarines could evolve further to adaptable platforms with mission-specific equipment, although this too comes with its own disadvantages. 

"The risks of such a radical departure from current design conventions are significant - but ultimately the challenges of budget and ever-broader capability requirements may prove even greater."

The full article is available in January's edition of Warship Technology Magazine, which is accessed with a subscription.  To speak to a member of the submarine team, please email