The Upholder-class were the last class of diesel boats built for the Royal Navy for a couple of reasons. Firstly, they were cheaper to produce than their nuclear counterparts and, secondly, they were able to be constructed in a shorter period of time. The Royal Navy was in need of boats to protect the Greenland-Iceland - UK ocean gaps where Russian submarines would probe, trying to slip through into the greater Atlantic. The Upholder-class was commissioned starting in 1990 and ran through 1993 as the Cold War came to a close. The British government then came to the conclusion that they could not fund and maintain conventionally-powered submarines alongside nuclear boats. As such, the four Upholder-class subs were put into reserve status. In their short period of service, the class operated mostly in the Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea and around UK waters.
This recall was not an easy decision due to the large amounts of money spent on the new class. The Upholder-class were the most sophisticated and modern diesel-electric-powered submarines ever built. Her hull design looked like a nuclear boat having a short and stout "tear-drop" design. The boat could accommodate a crew of 41 seamen and 7 officers. The design allowed living space for 5 additional crew members. This was a new concept and allowed for OPS mission specialists, training or non-military mission personnel to come aboard. The low number of crew members was due to the increased automation built into these new boats. The boats had three decks and the pressure hull was a single skin constructed of number 1 high-tensile steel covered in elastomeric tiles. Her sonar and radar were top-of-the-line rivaling even Her Majesty's nuclear submarines. For whatever reason, they were not fitted with the British developed pump-jet propulsion system that had been installed in all SSNs since the early 1980s. The choice was made to provide a conventional seven-bladed skewback propeller, this decision perhaps forced due to project cost overruns as additional monies were needed to correct the torpedo launching system. All of the boats needed to have their initial launch tubes replaced in dry dock.
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