A Submarine Too Strange to Really Believe
BackgroundThis post is certainly NOT about the USS JIMMY CARTER (SSN-23). For prposes of contrast Vigilis notes a recent article The Navy's Most Shadowy Spy Is 450 Feet Long & Named After Jimmy Carter, for readers to consider in relation to what will follow. Although the key point of this background lies in the last sentence of this section, lets start with this SSN-23 image.
"So what does the Jimmy Carter do with all its modifications? Like its USS Halibut, USS Seawolf, USS Richard Russell and USS Parche [and perhaps others never publicly acknowledged], which were modified ‘special mission’ subs that came before it, the Jimmy Carter conducts espionage, and could even conduct sabotage, in a variety of manners"
Remember, all submarines are intended to be "SLIENT AND STRANGE". Whether you remain mystified by the utility of some or all of the "shadowy" features illustrated above, the link confirms only what cannot be refuted by widely available photographic evidence, which is:
The Jimmy Carter differs from the standard Seawolf Class submarine via a slew of modifications made during her initial construction, including a "massive 100-foot long hull extension".
The Strangeness of the S-80Again, lets start with an image of the Spanish Navy's yet-to-be-completed, domestically constructed (by Navantia, Cartagena) S-80 sub.
Construction on the S-80 class submarines began in early 2005. The keel for the first submarine was laid and the steel for the second submarine was cut in December 2007. Construction of the third submarine began in 2009. VIGILIS NOTES: Wasted space in bow?
Strangeness (should we believe any of it?)
- In May 2013, Navantia announced that a serious weight imbalance design flaw had been identified which will delay the delivery of the first submarine to the Spanish Navy until possibly 2017. Excess weight of 75 - 100 tons has been added to the sub during construction and the current design is not able to resurface after diving. A former Spanish official says the problem can be traced to a miscalculation — someone apparently put a decimal point in the wrong place or by the addition of new technologic devices.
- In June 2013, with the S-80 project suffering from an underperforming AIP system (allowing 21 days underway versus 28 planned) the Spanish Ministry of Defense announced that Navantia had signed the U.S.'s General Dynamics Electric Boat to help solve the excess weight problem.
- In November 2014, Navantia again reported having completed the redesign work to address the problem of overweight. In all, the hull will be lengthened by seven metres, and the displacement increased by 75 tons. The intended delivery date of the first submarine will be is 2018. 
- In April 2015, 70 batteries for the new submarine, worth € 469,000 were stolen. They were recovered by the Guardia Civil in an operation that led to the arrest of five people including the head of Zaragoza recycling companies.
Such embarrassing lapses (including stolen batteries) would ordinarily not bode well for any country's sub force. Perhaps Spain's unfortuitous delays and HULL EXTENSION are cover stories for an updated capability that is slightly shadowy and secret.
Submarines are always silent and strange.