Nuclear sub shows the flag in Gulf: Royal Navy counters a threat from Iran

HMS Triumph, the first British nuclear-powered submarine to visit the Gulf, has surfaced in the region now the end of the Cold War has permitted the re-adoption of a global strategy in support of the new world order.

The submarine's captain, Commander David Vaughan, says it is a 'pathfinding' visit - the frontier of submarine operations - to develop tactics for operations in warm waters very different from the Atlantic to which Cold War strategy and the Soviet threat confined British nuclear submarines.

Commander Vaughan stressed the visit was not specially connected with the arrival of Iran's first conventionally powered Kilo-class submarine at Bandar Abbas across the Gulf, where its crew are being trained. However, the Gulf states regard the presence of the British submarine as 'reassuring'. Two more Kilos are being built by the Russians in the Baltic.

It has also been confirmed that the Iranians are now building midget submarines. These are not regarded as a serious threat to shipping in the Gulf, which carries one-third of the world's oil, but more as a hazard similar to the fast motor boats used by Iranian Revolutionary Guards in the 1980s. The Iranians have not, so far, shown any reaction to the British submarine's arrival at the weekend.

HMS Triumph looked surprisingly small alongside its jetty at Abu Dhabi yesterday, a small part of her black hull - covered with foot-square anechoic tiles to absorb enemy sonar - visible above the bright Gulf waters. The newest of the Royal Navy's nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines commissioned in 1991, she is 280ft long and displaces 5,200 tons of water when submerged.

'In this great modern port we're just a spot on the jetty but when we came in we were very visible,' said Cdr Vaughan, 37. The submarine came through the Straits of Hormuz on the surface but Cdr Vaughan said that there were 'no real problems' in operating a nuclear-powered attack submarine in these waters. It is a conventional submarine that has some problems. It has continually to charge its battery and that can make it vulnerable.

Cdr Vaughan's nuclear submarine has been at sea for two months and needed no support whatever. 'We've been in the Gulf and we've had a dive out in the middle and it's fairly straightforward,' he said.

The US navy operated several nuclear submarines in the Gulf during the 1991 war, firing Tomahawk cruise missiles at land targets. The Royal Navy had nuclear submarines 'in the area' but cannot fire cruise missiles. A US nuclear submarine, USS Birmingham, is also in the Gulf.

Cdr Vaughan said a visit to Abu Dhabi had no special significance, a point endorsed by Captain Martin Macpherson, representing the Navy's flag officer submarines. 'The need to keep nuclear submarines close to home has changed,' said Capt Macpherson. 'The purchase of the Kilo- class from Russia is clearly a development. Whilst locally here the Iranian Kilo is obviously of strategic significance, similar problems exist all over the world.' There were about 300 submarines round the world, owned by 70 nations, of similar quality to the Kilo, he added.

Crd Vaughan said it would take the Iranians years before they could carry out even a one-off submarine operation, even with Russian help, and the British experience bore this out. 'It's taken us time to develop tactics to deal with these phenomena. All these countries buying diesel submarines - it's going to take them time to work up that expertise. We're still learning.'

HMS Triumph had 123 men on board yesterday - its complement of 97, plus trainees. Each has a bunk, a locker and small curtains for privacy. The most spacious expanse is the silver and grey operations room, divided into key areas: sonar; control of weapons; navigation; and overall battle management.

The green blips on the black screens formed a maze of high technology light. The Iranians have nothing like it and it would take them 10- 15 years to develop the ability to conduct more than the occasional kamikaze operation with submarines.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Business Development Executive / Digital Marketing Executive

£26000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A luxury beauty house with a nu...

Recruitment Genius: Housekeepers - Immediate Start

£8 per hour: Recruitment Genius: This company are currently recruiting new exp...

Recruitment Genius: Head Concierge

£25000 - £28000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This award winning Property Man...

Recruitment Genius: Content, SEO and PPC Executive

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has ari...

Day In a Page

On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

On your feet!

Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Liverpool close in on Milner signing

Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

The big NHS question

Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

Thongs ain't what they used to be

Big knickers are back
Thurston Moore interview

Thurston Moore interview

On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
In full bloom

In full bloom

Floral print womenswear
From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

From leading man to Elephant Man

Bradley Cooper is terrific
In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

In this the person to restore our trust in the banks?

Dame Colette Bowe - interview
When do the creative juices dry up?

When do the creative juices dry up?

David Lodge thinks he knows
The 'Cher moment' happening across fashion just now

Fashion's Cher moment

Ageing beauty will always be more classy than all that booty
Thousands of teenage girls enduring debilitating illnesses after routine school cancer vaccination

Health fears over school cancer jab

Shock new Freedom of Information figures show how thousands of girls have suffered serious symptoms after routine HPV injection
Fifa President Sepp Blatter warns his opponents: 'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

'I forgive everyone, but I don't forget'

Fifa president Sepp Blatter issues defiant warning to opponents
Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report

Weather warning

Extreme summer temperatures will soon cause deaths of up to 1,700 more Britons a year, says government report
LSD: Speaking to volunteer users of the drug as trials get underway to see if it cures depression and addiction

High hopes for LSD

Meet the volunteer users helping to see if it cures depression and addiction
German soldier who died fighting for UK in Battle of Waterloo should be removed from museum display and given dignified funeral, say historians

Saving Private Brandt

A Belgian museum's display of the skeleton of a soldier killed at Waterloo prompts calls for him to be given a dignified funeral