Trafalgar Class

Attack Submarine

Our four Trafalgar-class attack submarines were designed as Cold War warriors but have been adapted to the demands of the 21st century.

The primary role was to hunt out and destroy enemy nuclear missile submarines as well as surface ships, over the decades they have been kitted out to perform other roles including covert surveillance and inshore reconnaissance of installations and landing beaches

Fitted with world-beating sonar, essentially their ears, the system is so sensitive they can hear vessels over 50 miles away.

At a glance


5298 tonnes

Total displacement

85.4 metres

Total length

30 years

Expected lifespan



Crew members

Weapons and capabilities

Tomahawk cruise missile

Sea-launched missile

The Tomahawk IV – known in the Royal Navy as TLAM (Tomahawk Land Attack Cruise Missile) – allows submarines to strike at ground targets hundreds of miles inland with pinpoint accuracy.

The missile has been in use with the Submarine Service since the late 1990s.

Tomahawk IV is the latest version of the missile. It has a longer range than its predecessors (well in excess of 1,000 miles), can be directed at a new target in mid-flight, and can also beam back images of the battlefield to its mother submarine.


Spearfish torpedo

Anti-submarine torpedo

The Spearfish torpedo is the heavyweight torpedo, weighing nearly two tonnes and is capable of blasting enemy submarines or ships out of the water.

At full speed, Spearfish can attack at target up to 14 miles away. At low speed, that increases to more than 30 miles. 

It is guided either by a copper wire or closes on to its target using its inbuilt sonar, delivering a 660lb explosive charge. That detonates either when it strikes the hull of an enemy submarine, or via an acoustic proximity fuse underneath the target.

Being a part of the Submarine Service

CH Hayes, 46

Chef (Submariner)

You can’t beat the buzz of working in a kitchen – especially when you’re 200 metres underwater! Living in such close quarters means we’re a tight-knit team, and a good meal is a sure-fire way to boost morale.