The Agosta Class, known in Spain as the Galerna Class or S-70 Series, is a type of submarine developed by the DCN shipyards in France in the 1970s and manufactured by DCN and in Spain by Bazán (now Navantia). The Spanish submarines are based on the project of the French Agosta Class submarines, which in turn collected the Daphné Class technology. It was in service with the French Navy until its final retirement in 2001, and is currently used by the Spanish Navy (4 units) and the Pakistani Navy (2 basic Agosta, plus 3 Agosta 90B ordered in 1994).
Given the need to replace the Narwhal-class ocean submarines and based on the modernization of the second large hull of the Daphné-class coastal submarines (approximately ten years of life), the French Direction Technique des Constructions Navales projected a new type of conventional submarine, oceanic. Four units were included in the 1970-1975 five-year naval program, which were later given the names Agosta, Bévéziers, La Praya and Ouessant. All were admitted to active service throughout 1978. They formed the spearhead of the French submarine force until it began to be spearheaded by the new Rubis-class nuclear submarines from the mid-1980s, coinciding with the withdrawal from service of the Narval.
In Spain, in 1971 a commission was appointed to study the type of submarine that best suited the Spanish Navy, since at that time the possibility of building a fifth and a sixth Daphné was contemplated.
This commission went to work immediately and analyzed the projects available or more accessible at the time. They were reduced to only two, the aforementioned French and the German Type 209, of which a large number of units had been built since 1968; its acceptance in the different marinas was very important. Due to the change in technology and subjecting the Submarine Weapon to the use of two totally different types of submarines, with all the logistical and training problems that this would entail, the recommendation of the naval commission leaned towards the “Agosta” model.
In 1974 and by Ministerial Order, at the proposal of the General Staff of the Navy, the construction of two “Agosta” type submarines was ordered at the E.N. Bazán de Cartagena, and on May 9, 1975, the execution order was signed by the Director of Construction, Vice Admiral Juan C. Muñoz-Delgado, and the Managing Director of the E.N. Bazán Francisco Bembibre.
The advantages of the 70 series submarines, compared to the 60, were a notable improvement in the habitability conditions on board, as well as the technology used. Rather, its services responded to the needs of a nuclear attack submarine. At this point, it should be mentioned that a submarine is a weapon of war and the harsh conditions imposed by life on board must be accepted with the utmost naturalness, and in fact all Submarine Weapon personnel are volunteers.
On June 29, 1977, the E.N. Bazán received the execution order for two other “Agostas.” In February 1981, an order from the Ministry of Defense gave the four submarines their respective names, these being the names of winds: Galerna (S-71), Siroco (S-72), Mistral (S-73), Tramontana (S -74).
Its maximum immersion time is 75 hours due to electricity consumption with a maximum operational level of 300 m in peacetime.
The French Agostas participated in Operation Fusain since January 1991, actively collaborating in the surveillance and blockade operations against Iraq in the First Gulf War.
The Spanish S-70s have participated in various international missions, specifically, in the blockade of the former Yugoslavia during the Balkan Wars and in surveillance missions in Libya and Lebanon. They are also units regularly participating in NATO’s Active Endeavor operation.
Its typical missions are:
- Patrols against surface or underwater forces.
- Attack on traffic.
- Reconnaissance and surveillance.
- Intelligence gathering.
- Special operations.
- Offensive mining.
The Agosta-90B-class submarines is an improved version with modern systems, better battery with longer endurance, deeper diving capability, lower acoustic cavitation and better automatic control (reducing crew from 54 to 36). It can be equipped with the MESMA air-independent propulsion (AIP) system. It is capable of carrying a combined load up to 16 torpedoes, SM39 Exocet, and seaborne nuclear cruise missiles.
The submarines were built through the technology transfer by France to Pakistan that resulted in complicated and lengthy negotiations between the Benazir Bhutto government and the Mitterrand administration in 1992, and signed with the Chirac administration in 1992. The Agosta–90Bs were chosen over the British Upholder/Victoria class and the project was initially aimed at $520 million but the programme of technology transfer costed $950 million, for which France first provided loans that were paid in five to six years. In 2000, France gave Pakistan the licence to offer commercial production of the submarines to potential customers.
- S-71 Galerna – Comisioned 01-21-1983.
- S-72 Siroco – Comisioned 05-12-1983, decomisioned 06-26-2012
- S-73 Mistral – Comisioned 06-05-1985, decomisioned 06-10-2020
- S-74 Tramontana – Comisioned 01-27-1986
- Agosta (S620): decommissioned in 1997 – the helmet is used for crash tests in Toulon.
- Beveziers (S621): dropped in 1998.
- La Praya (S622): dropped in 2000.
- Ouessant (S623): decommissioned in 2001 – Loaned to the Malaysian navy as a training submarine.
- Hashmat (S135) in service since 1979.
- Hurmat (S136) in service since 1980.
- Khalid (S137) in service since 1999 (Agosta 90B).
- Saad (S138) in service since 2002 (Agosta 90B).
- Hamzaa (S139) in service since 2004 (Agosta 90B).
|Beam:||6 m (19 ft 8 in)|
|Range:||8,500 miles (13,679 km)|
- French Navy – 4 units purchased. Withdrawals from service.
- Spanish Navy – 4 units purchased, 2 in service.
- Pakistani Navy – 2 Agosta and 3 Agosta 90B in service