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HMS Tireless (S88)
HMS Tireless S-88.jpg
HMS Tireless (S88) at the North Pole, April 2004.
Career (UK)
Name: HMS Tireless
Ordered: 5 July 1979
Laid down: 6 June 1981
Launched: 17 March 1984
Sponsored by: Sue Squires
Commissioned: 5 October 1985
Homeport: HMNB Devonport, Plymouth
Identification: Pennant number: S88
Fate: in active service, as of 2021
Badge: 100px
General characteristics [1]
Class & type: Trafalgar class submarine
Displacement: 4,800 tonnes, surfaced
5,300 tonnes, dived
Length: 85.4 m (280 ft)
Beam: 9.8 m (32 ft)
Draught: 9.5 m (31 ft)
Installed power: 15,000 shp (11 MW)
  • 1 x Rolls Royce PWR1 nuclear reactor
  • 2 x GEC steam turbines
  • 2 x WH Allen turbo generators; 3.2 MW
  • 2 x Paxman diesel alternators 2,800 shp (2.1 MW)
  • 1 x pump jet propulsor[Note 1]
  • 1 x motor for emergency drive
  • 1 x auxiliary retractable prop
Speed: 32 knots (59 km/h) dived
Range: Unlimited, except by food supplies and maintenance requirements.
Complement: 130 (18 officers)
Sensors and
processing systems:
Ferranti/Gresham Dowty DCB/DCG or BAE Systems SMCS data system, Type 2072 hull-mounted flank array passive sonar, Plessey Type 2020 or Marconi/Plessey Type 2074 hull-mounted active and passive search and attack sonar, Ferranti Type 2046 or TUS 2076 towed array passive search sonar, Thomson Sintra Type 2019 PARIS or Thorn EMI 2082 passive intercept and ranging sonar, Marconi Type 2077 short range active classification sonar, Kelvin Hughes Type 1007 I band navigation radar, Pilkington Optronics CK34 search periscope, Pilkington Optronics CH84/CM010 attack periscope
Electronic warfare
& decoys:
  • 2 × SSE Mk 8 launchers for Type 2066 and Type 2071 torpedo decoys
  • RESM Racal UAP passive intercept
  • CESM Outfit CXA
  • SAWCS decoys carried from 2002
  • 5 × 21-inch (533 mm) torpedo tubes with stowage for up to 30 weapons:
  • HMS Tireless is a Trafalgar-class nuclear submarine of the Royal Navy and is the third vessel of her class. Tireless is the second submarine of the Royal Navy to bear this name. She was launched in March 1984, sponsored by Sue Squires, wife of Admiral 'Tubby' Squires, and commissioned in October 1985.

    Tireless was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2013 and will be replaced by one of the new Astute class submarines.[3]

    Operational history[]

    From commissioning in 1985, over the next six years Tireless completed numerous exercises and visits around the world, including a trip to the Arctic in 1991. In early 1996, she entered refit and returned to sea in 1999.

    Tireless surfaces in arctic ice, 2007 during ICEX-07

    Primary Coolant Leak[]

    In May 2000, Tireless developed a serious leak in the nuclear reactor primary cooling circuit, although there was no leak of radioactive material. The nuclear propulsion system was shut down and using backup diesel power Tireless made way to Gibraltar. The damage was found to be more extensive than first thought, and the boat remained at Gibraltar, creating diplomatic tensions between Spain and Britain, until she left on 7 May 2001, nearly a year later following extensive repairs.[4][5] During that year, all Trafalgar-class submarines were inspected for similar problems.

    Collision with iceberg[]

    On 13 May 2003, while on exercise in the Arctic and travelling at a depth of 60 metres, Tireless collided with an iceberg. There was no prior warning of the impending collision from her passive sonar or other onboard sensors. The submarine's bow was forced down 9 degrees and the vessel subsequently broke free of the iceberg at a depth of 78 metres. Some damage was sustained to the upper section of the boat. Before the incident the Royal Navy had not conducted under-ice operations since 1996.[6][7]

    On 19 April 2004, Tireless and USS Hampton rendezvoused under the Arctic ice and surfaced together at the North Pole.

    Tireless again angered Spain in 2004 when the boat put into Gibraltar from 9 July to 15 July for what was explained as "technical reasons." Britain assured Spain that the port call was unrelated to the British celebrations, on 21 July, of the 300th anniversary of the capture of Gibraltar from Spain.[8]

    Flags from the APLIS Camp

    March 2007 explosion[]

    In 2007 Tireless ventured to the North Pole with USS Alexandria to participate in the Applied Physics Laboratory Ice Station (APLIS). At the time of this experiment the cast of the movie Stargate: Continuum filmed on the ice-cap and the USS Alexandria.

    On 21 March 2007, two Tireless crew members, Leading Operator Mechanic Paul McCann and Operator Maintainer (Weapons Submariner) 2 Anthony Huntrod, were killed in an explosion on board, apparently caused by an oxygen generator candle in the forward section of the submarine. The submarine was in service near the North Pole under ICEX-07 along with the USS Alexandria and had to make an emergency surface through the ice cap. A third crewmember suffered "non life-threatening" injuries and was airlifted to a military hospital at Elmendorf Air Force Base near Anchorage, Alaska. According to the Royal Navy, the accident did not affect the ship's nuclear reactor, and the boat sustained only superficial damage. Part of the exercise was being used to measure ice thickness by using sonar.[9][10] The film Stargate: Continuum—which was filming on the ice and in the Alexandria during the exercise—was dedicated to McCann and Huntrod.

    2010-2011 deployment[]

    At the North Pole

    From 9 July 2010 to 12 May 2011 Tireless undertook a ten month deployment, spending 253 days at sea, the longest conducted by a Royal Navy submarine in ten years.[11] During the deployment the boat passed through the Suez Canal for the first time, provided protection for the French aircraft carrier Charles de Gaulle launching aircraft over Afghanistan, and called into the ports of Fujairah in the United Arab Emirates, Goa in India and Souda Bay in Crete. She was also involved in a multi-nation anti-submarine exercise in the Gulf of Oman which saw the Australian frigate HMAS Melbourne and the French frigate FS Dupleix attempt to hunt Tireless down.[11][12]

    2012 South Atlantic deployment[]

    In February 2012, it was reported that either Tireless or HMS Turbulent was being deployed to the Falkland Islands amid increasing tension between Argentina and the United Kingdom over sovereignty of the islands.[13]

    2013 Coolant Leak[]

    In early 2013 Tireless experienced a "small coolant leak that was contained within the sealed reactor compartment", requiring her to return to HMNB Devonport for repair.[14]

    2013 Mediterranean Deployment[]

    HMS Tireless was spotted off Gibraltar, amidst the tensions between Spain and Gibraltar. It is suggested that this SSN could be a key ship used to strike Syria if military actions occur.[15][16]


    1. All boats have a pump jet propulsor with the exception of Trafalgar which was fitted with a 7-bladed conventional propeller.[2]
    1. "Trafalgar Class". Royal Navy. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
    2. Graham, Ian, Attack Submarine, Gloucester Publishing, Oct 1989, page 12. ISBN 978-0-531-17156-1
    3. Hansard HL Deb 14 March 2005 vol 670 c116WA quoted in House of Commons Defence Committee - Fourth Report, 12 Dec 2006
    4. John H. Large (March 2005). "Forensic Assessments of the Nuclear Propulsion Plants of the Submarines HMS Tireless and RF Northern Fleet Kursk" (PDF). Institution of Mechanical Engineers seminar: Forensic Investigation of Power Plant Failures. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
    5. "Nuclear sub leaves Gibraltar". BBC News. 7 May 2001. Retrieved 2010-05-23. 
    6. Department of the Official Report (Hansard), House of Commons, Westminster. "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 02 Nov 2010 (pt 0001)". Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
    7. "Summary - BOI into the Collison of HMS Tireless on 13 May 2003" (PDF). Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
    8. El 'Tireless' llega a la base naval de Gibraltar pese a las reiteradas protestas del Gobierno español, en diario El Mundo (spanish)
    9. "Oxygen device sparked sub blast". BBC News. 22 March 2007. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
    10. "2 sailors killed in UK nuclear submarine accident". CNN. Retrieved 2007-03-22. 
    11. 11.0 11.1 "Tireless lives up to her name on ten month tour of duty". May 2011. 
    12. "Ministry of Defence | Defence News | Training and Adventure | HMS Tireless in multinational submarine exercise". 13 October 2010. Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
    13. First Posted: 4/02/2012 09:46 Updated: 4/02/2012 13:01 (4 February 2012). "Falkland Islands: Nuclear Submarine Sent By Royal Navy To South Atlantic, According To Reports". Retrieved 31 October 2012. 
    14. Rebecca Ricks (19 February 2013). "Devonport submarine HMS Tireless back in Plymouth after reactor coolant leak". Retrieved 20 February 2013. 

    External links[]

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