HMS Superb (S109)

HMS Superb (S109) was a nuclear powered fleet submarine
A submarine is a watercraft capable of independent operation below the surface of the water. It differs from a submersible, which has more limited underwater capability...

 of the Swiftsure class serving in the Royal Navy
Royal Navy
The Royal Navy is the naval warfare service branch of the British Armed Forces. Founded in the 16th century, it is the oldest service branch and is known as the Senior Service...


She was built by Vickers
Vickers Shipbuilding and Engineering Ltd
In 1994 VSEL was subject to two takeover proposals, one from GEC and another from British Aerospace . VSEL was willing to participate in a merger with a larger company to reduce its exposure to cycles in warship production, particularly following the "Options for Change" defence review after the...

 Shipbuilding Groups, now a division of BAE Systems
BAE Systems
BAE Systems plc is a British multinational defence, security and aerospace company headquartered in London, United Kingdom, that has global interests, particularly in North America through its subsidiary BAE Systems Inc. BAE is among the world's largest military contractors; in 2009 it was the...

 Submarine Solutions. HMS Superb was launched on 30 November 1974 at Barrow-in-Furness
Barrow-in-Furness is an industrial town and seaport which forms about half the territory of the wider Borough of Barrow-in-Furness in the county of Cumbria, England. It lies north of Liverpool, northwest of Manchester and southwest from the county town of Carlisle...

, Cumbria
Cumbria , is a non-metropolitan county in North West England. The county and Cumbria County Council, its local authority, came into existence in 1974 after the passage of the Local Government Act 1972. Cumbria's largest settlement and county town is Carlisle. It consists of six districts, and in...

 and commissioned into the Royal Navy on 13 November 1976. After being damaged in May 2008 in the Red Sea, she returned to Devonport where she was decommissioned slightly ahead of schedule on 26 September 2008.


She was the first British submarine to visit the Arctic Ocean
Arctic Ocean
The Arctic Ocean, located in the Northern Hemisphere and mostly in the Arctic north polar region, is the smallest and shallowest of the world's five major oceanic divisions...

 and sail under the polar ice caps.

During the Falklands War
Falklands War
The Falklands War , also called the Falklands Conflict or Falklands Crisis, was fought in 1982 between Argentina and the United Kingdom over the disputed Falkland Islands and South Georgia and the South Sandwich Islands...

, Superb was spotted sailing from Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

, which prompted press speculation that she was sailing to the South Atlantic to enforce a maritime exclusion zone. In fact, only HMS Spartan
HMS Spartan (S105)
HMS Spartan is a nuclear-powered fleet submarine of the Royal Navy's Swiftsure class. HMS Spartan was launched on April 7, 1978 by Lady Lygo, wife of Admiral Sir Raymond Lygo. The boat was built by Vickers-Armstrongs at Barrow-in-Furness in Cumbria, England...

 was sailing south at that time but the speculation was useful to promote the apparent threat of the Royal Navy in the South Atlantic and was not corrected by the Navy or MoD.

In support of the war against terror
War in Afghanistan (2001–present)
The War in Afghanistan began on October 7, 2001, as the armed forces of the United States of America, the United Kingdom, Australia, and the Afghan United Front launched Operation Enduring Freedom...

 in 2001, HMS Superb operated in the Indian Ocean.

In 2007, Superb successfully completed training manoeuvres off the Scottish coast, engaging with HMS Daring, a brand new Type 45 destroyer.

In January 2008 a sentry was found sleeping while on watch; the reprimand to the crew was caught on video.

On 26 May 2008, the Superb hit an underwater pinnacle in the Red Sea
Red Sea
The Red Sea is a seawater inlet of the Indian Ocean, lying between Africa and Asia. The connection to the ocean is in the south through the Bab el Mandeb strait and the Gulf of Aden. In the north, there is the Sinai Peninsula, the Gulf of Aqaba, and the Gulf of Suez...

, 80 miles south of the Suez Canal
Suez Canal
The Suez Canal , also known by the nickname "The Highway to India", is an artificial sea-level waterway in Egypt, connecting the Mediterranean Sea and the Red Sea. Opened in November 1869 after 10 years of construction work, it allows water transportation between Europe and Asia without navigation...

She remained watertight, and none of the 112 crew were injured; however, she was unable to resubmerge due to damage to her sonar. After undertaking initial repairs at the Souda Bay
Souda Bay
Souda Bay is a bay and natural harbour on the northwest coast of the Greek island of Crete. The bay is about 15 km long and only two to four km wide, and a deep natural harbour. It is formed between the Akrotiri peninsula and Cape Drapano, and runs west to east...

 NATO base on Crete
Crete is the largest and most populous of the Greek islands, the fifth largest island in the Mediterranean Sea, and one of the thirteen administrative regions of Greece. It forms a significant part of the economy and cultural heritage of Greece while retaining its own local cultural traits...

 on 10 June 2008, she passed through the Mediterranean, with a pause (at night) some miles off Gibraltar
Gibraltar is a British overseas territory located on the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula at the entrance of the Mediterranean. A peninsula with an area of , it has a northern border with Andalusia, Spain. The Rock of Gibraltar is the major landmark of the region...

to disembark some less critical crew. Superb then continued back to the UK, arriving at Devonport Dockyard on 28 June 2008. After surveying the damage, the Royal Navy decided to decommission the Superb slightly ahead of schedule on 26 September 2008.

Nearly two years after the grounding, in March 2010, three officers of the Superb were reprimanded for their roles in the incident. All three pleaded guilty to the charges of neglecting to perform their duty in failing to notice that the submarine was traveling towards the pinnacle. Despite the incident, all three officers still serve in the Royal Navy.

External links

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