HMS Torbay (S90)

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HMS Torbay S90 cropped.jpg
HMS Torbay rounding Calshot Spit, Southampton in November 2010.
United Kingdom
NameHMS Torbay
BuilderVickers Shipbuilding and Engineering, Barrow-in-Furness
Laid down3 December 1982
Launched8 March 1985
Sponsored byLady Ann Herbert
Commissioned7 February 1987
Decommissioned14 July 2017
HomeportHMNB Devonport, Plymouth
General characteristics
Class and type Trafalgar-class submarine
  • Surfaced: 4,500 to 4,800 t (4,700 long tons; 5,300 short tons)[1]
  • Submerged: 5,200 to 5,300 t (5,200 long tons; 5,800 short tons)[1]
Length85.4 m (280 ft)[1]
Beam9.8 m (32 ft)[1]
Draught9.5 m (31 ft)[1]
  • 1 × Rolls Royce PWR1 nuclear reactor
  • 2 × GEC steam turbines
  • 2 × WH Allen turbo generators; 3.2 MW
  • 2 × Paxman diesel alternators 2,800 shp (2.1 MW)
  • 1 × pump jet propulsor
  • 1 × motor for emergency drive
  • 1 × auxiliary retractable prop
SpeedOver 30 knots (56 km/h), submerged[1]
Electronic warfare
& decoys
  • 2 × SSE Mk8 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 Torbay was a Trafalgar-class nuclear submarine of the Royal Navy and the fourth vessel of her class. Torbay is the fifth vessel and the second submarine of the Royal Navy to be named after Torbay in Devon, England. The first vessel was the 80-gun second rate HMS Torbay launched in 1693.

Torbay was the first vessel to be fitted with the new command system SMCS-NG and therefore the first British warship to be controlled using the Microsoft Windows operating system.

Torbay was scheduled to be decommissioned in 2015 and will be replaced by one of the new Astute-class submarines.[2] As of November 2013 she is still undergoing extended maintenance and upgrades, which were originally scheduled to complete in summer 2013. The work allows for a life extension beyond the previously-planned decommissioning date. On 6 June 2017, HMS Torbay entered Gibraltar Naval Base flying her paying-off pennant. On Friday 14 July 2017, HMS Torbay was decommissioned in Devonport.

Operational history

Torbay completed a refuel and modernisation process in February 2001.[citation needed]

In early 2006, Torbay was the participant in an experiment in the use of colour schemes to reduce the visibility of submarines from the air. The standard black paint of Royal Navy submarines was replaced by a carefully selected shade of blue. This was the result of research that found that black was the worst possible colour for a submarine attempting to avoid detection from the air. This change is in part the result of the changing nature of Royal Navy commitments since the end of the Cold War, with Navy operations moving from the murky waters of the North Atlantic to the clearer waters of the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean.[3]

In November 2010, it was reported in Hansard that Torbay had run aground in the Eastern Mediterranean in April 2009.[4]

In May 2011, she took part in Exercise Saxon Warrior in the Western Approaches. The exercise included the aircraft carrier USS George H.W. Bush, HMS Dauntless, HMS Westminster, and a number of other vessels and culminated in a "Thursday War".[5]

In late 2011 she entered a revalidation and assisted maintenance period (RAMP) at Devonport Royal Dockyard. This includes communications upgrades with installation of the Cromwell radio antenna to enhance internal communications and the ship alongside upgrade, plus inspection of the hull and reactor, an overhaul of one of the reactor coolers and upgrades to many other systems. As of September 2012 the RAMP was 85% complete, with a return to service originally planned for summer 2013.[6]

In 2013, there was a fire on board.[7]

Torbay underway in formation with the US oiler Leroy Grumman during Exercise Saxon Warrior 11.

On 6 June 2017, Torbay entered Gibraltar flying her paying-off pennant; she made her final entry to Devonport on 19 June 2017 prior to her formal decommissioning parade on 14 July 2017.[8]


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 Bush, Steve (2014). British Warships and Auxiliaries. Maritime Books. p. 12. ISBN 1904459552.
  2. Hansard HL Deb 14 March 2005 vol 670 c116WA quoted in House of Commons Defence Committee - Fourth Report, 12 Dec 2006
  3. British Subs Debunk Conventional Fashion: Is Blue the New Black?, Defense Industry Daily, 3 April 2006, retrieved 2010-11-03
  4. "House of Commons Hansard Written Answers for 02 Nov 2010 (pt 0001)". Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  5. "Navy News - Reporting from the Fleet". Retrieved 7 August 2016.[permanent dead link]
  6. "HMS Torbay achieves major milestone in RAMP programme". 21 September 2012.
  7. "HMS Torbay nuclear submarine evacuated". BBC News. Retrieved 7 August 2016.
  8. "Water cannon welcome as submarine sails into Devonport for the last time". The Herald. 19 June 2017. Retrieved 27 June 2017.[permanent dead link]


  • Submarines, War Beneath The Waves, From 1776 to the Present Day, by Robert Hutchinson

External links