The Trafalgar-class submarines were, until the introduction of the Astute class, the Royal Navy's most advanced nuclear fleet submarines. Torbay, Trenchant, Talent, and Triumph have been fitted with Sonar 2076, which the Royal Navy describes as the most advanced sonar in service with any navy in the world.
The Trafalgar class is a refinement of the Swiftsure class and designed six years later than its predecessor. The design included a new reactor core and Type 2020 sonar. Internal layout is almost identical to the Swiftsure, and it is only 2.5 metres longer. The Trafalgar class have strengthened fins and retractable hydroplanes, allowing them to surface through thick ice. The hull is also covered in anechoic tiles which are designed to absorb sound rather than reflect it, making the boats more difficult to detect with active sonar.
The first Trafalgar-class submarine was ordered on 7 April 1977 and completed in 1983. Turbulent was ordered on 28 July 1978; Tireless on 5 July 1979; Torbay on 26 June 1981; Trenchant on 22 March 1983; Talent on 10 September 1984; and finally Triumph on 3 July 1986.
In 1993 Triumph sailed to Australia, covering a distance of 41,000 miles whilst submerged and without any forward support. This marked the longest solo deployment by any British nuclear submarine.
The Trafalgar class was to be replaced by the Future Attack Submarine (FASM), however this project was effectively cancelled in 2001 and replaced by the Maritime Underwater Future Capability. The Astute class will eventually replace the Trafalgar class as well as the now-retired Swiftsure. As of 2008 it is planned that the last Trafalgar-class submarines will remain in service until 2022. The name Trafalgar refers to the Battle of Trafalgar fought between the Royal Navy and the combined fleets of France and Spain.
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