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NATO Naval Visitors Included Submarine With “X” Tail

30th April 2016
The "X" tail configuration of the stern of Dutch submarine HNLMS Walrus having swung from a berth in Alexandra Basin to depart Dublin Port The "X" tail configuration of the stern of Dutch submarine HNLMS Walrus having swung from a berth in Alexandra Basin to depart Dublin Port Photo: Photo Jehan Ashmore

#NATOsub - Belgian Navy vessels are visiting Dublin Port over this May bank holiday weekend. They follow calls from two other members of NATO, France and Netherlands whose non-nuclear powered submarine HNLMS Walrus features an unusual stern design as explained below, writes Jehan Ashmore.

Beginning firstly with the Belgian trio, they are BNS Godetia, an auxiliary command and logistical support ship, BNS Lobelia a ‘Tripartite’ class minehunter and BNS Pollux a patrol vessel. Unlike the Dutch and French navies, they are berthed much closer to the city centre along Sir John Rogersons Quay.

It was on Wednesday that the Royal Netherlands Navy submarine HNLMS Walrus (2,650 tonnes when submerged) made a lunchtime departure from the port’s Alexandra Basin.

What makes the ‘Walrus’ class (equipped with almost 40 torpedoes), more unusual to other submarines, is instead of a cross-shaped assembly of stern diving planes and rudders, they mount four combined rudders and diving planes in an "X" tail configuration (see photo above).

The 68m long submarine draws a draft of 7.5m and was built by the Rotterdamsche Droogdok Maatschappij (Rotterdam Dry Dock Co). In 1979 a serious fire delayed the construction of the submarine and the commissioning into service finally took place in 1992.  

Also departing on Wednesday was the French Navy auxiliary tanker, Var, that berthed opposite the submarine on the south quays.

This left the second French caller, the destroyer, Cassard to remain in Alexandra Basin until a farewell from the capital on the following day.

Published in Naval Visits
Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore

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Jehan Ashmore is a marine correspondent, researcher and photographer, specialising in Irish ports, shipping and the ferry sector serving the UK and directly to mainland Europe. Jehan also occasionally writes a column, 'Maritime' Dalkey for the (Dalkey Community Council Newsletter) in addition to contributing to UK marine periodicals. 

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Naval Visits focuses on forthcoming courtesy visits by foreign navies from our nearest neighbours, to navies from European Union and perhaps even those navies from far-flung distant shores.

In covering these Naval Visits, the range of nationality arising from these vessels can also be broad in terms of the variety of ships docking in our ports.

The list of naval ship types is long and they perform many tasks. These naval ships can include coastal patrol vessels, mine-sweepers, mine-hunters, frigates, destroyers, amphibious dock-landing vessels, helicopter-carriers, submarine support ships and the rarer sighting of submarines.

When Naval Visits are made, it is those that are open to the public to come on board, provide an excellent opportunity to demonstrate up close and personal, what these look like and what they can do and a chance to discuss with the crew.

It can make even more interesting for visitors when a flotilla arrives, particularly comprising an international fleet, adding to the sense of curiosity and adding a greater mix to the type of vessels boarded.

All of this makes Naval Visits a fascinating and intriguing insight into the role of navies from abroad, as they spend time in our ports, mostly for a weekend-long call, having completed exercises at sea.

These naval exercises can involve joint co-operation between other naval fleets off Ireland, in the approaches of the Atlantic, and way offshore of the coasts of western European countries.

In certain circumstances, Naval Visits involve vessels which are making repositioning voyages over long distances between continents, having completed a tour of duty in zones of conflict.

Joint naval fleet exercises bring an increased integration of navies within Europe and beyond. These exercises improve greater co-operation at EU level but also internationally, not just on a political front, but these exercises enable shared training skills in carrying out naval skills and also knowledge.

Naval Visits are also reciprocal, in that the Irish Naval Service, has over the decades, visited major gatherings overseas, while also carrying out specific operations on many fronts.

Ireland can, therefore, be represented through these ships that also act as floating ambassadorial platforms, supporting our national interests.

These interests are not exclusively political in terms of foreign policy, through humanitarian commitments, but are also to assist existing trade and tourism links and also develop further.

Equally important is our relationship with the Irish diaspora, and to share this sense of identity with the rest of the World.

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