The Battle of Matapan 1941 - The Trafalgar of the Mediterranean

The Battle of Matapan 1941 - The Trafalgar of the Mediterranean

From War to Peace - The Conversion of Naval Vessels After Two World Wars

From War to Peace - The Conversion of Naval Vessels After Two World Wars

British Submarines in the Cold War Era

Norman Friedman

Although some of the Cold War activities of British submarines have come to light in recent years, this book is the first comprehensive technical history of the submarines themselves, their design rationale, and the service which operated them.
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The Royal Navy's greatest contribution to the Allied success in World War II was undoubtedly the defeat of the U-boat menace in the North Atlantic, a victory on which all other European campaigns depended. The underwater threat was the most serious naval challenge of the war so it was not surprising that captured German submarine technology became the focus of attention for the British submarine service after 1945. It was quick to test and adopt the schnorkel, streamlining, homing torpedoes and, less successfully, hydrogen-peroxide propulsion. Furthermore, in the course of the long Atlantic battle, the Royal Navy had become the world's most effective anti-submarine force and was able to utilise this expertise to improve the efficiency of its own submarines. However, in 1945 German submarine technology had also fallen into the hands of the Soviet Union and as the Cold War developed it became clear that a growing Russian submarine fleet would pose a new threat. Britain had to go to the US for its first nuclear propulsion technology, but the Royal Navy introduced the silencing technique which made British and US nuclear submarines viable anti-submarine assets, and it pioneered in the use of passive - silent - sonars in that role. Nuclear power also changed the role of some British submarines, which replaced bombers as the core element of British Cold War and post Cold War nuclear deterrence. As in other books in this series, this one shows how a combination of evolving strategic and tactical requirements and new technology produced successive types of submarines. It it is based largely on unpublished and previously classified official documentation, and to the extent allowed by security restrictions, also tells the operational story - HMS Conqueror is still the only nuclear submarine to have sunk a warship in combat, but there are many less well known aspects of British submarine operations in the postwar era. Although some of the Cold War activities of British submarines have come to light in recent years, this book will be the first comprehensive technical history of the submarines themselves, their design rationale, and the service which operated them.

ISBN: 9781526771223
Format: Hardback
Author(s): Norman Friedman
First Publishment Date: 29 July 2021
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Author(s) Norman Friedman
Customer Reviews
  1. In a word, masterly - highly recommended
    The first volume of Norman Friedman’s 2 volume series collection on British submarines covered the development and operational experience in the two World Wars, and he had now completed the series by examining the continued technical evolution and service of post-war RN submarines. The book opens with two chapters covering the post war-administration of defence and the political and economic pressures and changes brought about by technological development on submarines of both the East and West. Friedman’s exposition on UK post-war defence politics and defence in fighting is worth a read by itself. The statement that “weapons with which the West had won WWII were obsolescent” sets the scene for the Cold War submarine force expansion; for the British the submarine force focussed on the anti-submarine role and the eventual realisation that the only weapon that could deal with Soviet nuclear submarines was another nuclear submarine leads to a fascinating section on Cold War operations undertaken by British SSNs. The desire for quieter and faster submarines initially saw the post-war modernisation of the S,T and finally A boats with varying degrees of success. The RN experimented with HTP, but opted for the “fast battery submarine “ with the Porpoise and follow-on Oberons coming into service in the 1960s, but from the late 1950s the planning priority was nuclear. Conventional SSKs did return in the early 1990s, justified by their use for ASW and intelligence gathering. The Upholder was a “worthy” successor to the Oberons, but the SSK force was sacrificed under the post Cold War Defence Review with 4 Upholders going to Canada. Friedman traces the evolution of the British SSN design from the Dreadnought - basically a British hull with US nuclear plant, the 5 boat Valiant Class (“what the RN would have built if Dreadnought hadn’t been redesigned to employ US machinery”), the Swiftsure, and then the Trafalgar Class. There is a chapter covering the chequered gestation of the 7000 tonnes Astute Class, the latest British SSN described as the British equivalent of the US Virginia Class. The other major development of the 1960s was the choice of the submarine for strategic deterrence. With the progression from the Polaris armed Resolution Class to the Trident armed Vanguard and its successor, the Dreadnought which will come into service in the 2030s, the submarine borne nuclear deterrent is assured. If you want to find out anything about every aspect of post-war RN submarine design, engineering, weapons, the art of passive sonar detection, and even Cold War scenarios for midget submarine operations, this is the book. The hallmark of any Norman Friedman book is the exhaustive research involved and the high quality of accompanying photos and diagrams. This book is a brilliant example of his craft, in a word, masterly.

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