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Wednesday, 25 October 2017

INFOGRAPHICS #26: The major surface combatants of the most powerful European Navies and the attack submarines of Europe today

Written by D-Mitch

Row of Type 209 and Type 214 submarines at the
Hellenic Navy Salamis Naval Base (Jan 31, 2018).
This article includes two infographics. In the first infographic, named The major surface combatants of the most powerful European Navies in 2018, I depict the major surface combatant fleets of the seven (7) most powerful Navies in Europe, those seven navies that historically maintain and develop a strong naval fleet of very advanced warships (a similar article The major surface combatants of the most powerful European Navies in 2030). But what is a surface combatant? According to the Office of Naval Research of the United States Navy, "..surface combatants (or surface ships or surface vessels) are a subset of naval warships which are designed for warfare on the surface of the water, with their own weapons. They are generally ships built to fight other ships, submarines or aircraft, and can carry out several other missions including counter-narcotics operations and maritime interdiction. Their primary purpose is to engage space, air, surface, and submerged targets with weapons deployed from the ship itself, rather than by manned carried craft.". The term is primarily used to mean any modern vessel type that is not a submarine; although a "surface ship" may range in size from a small cutter to a large cruiser, the largest surface combatant today in any Navy.


German Navy Baden-Württemberg and Brandenburg class frigates in formation
Notice that I refer to the major surface combatants that includes the largest surface combatants, battleships and battlecruisers (outdated types of warships, only Russia has two modern ones), cruisers (only few in the world), destroyers and frigates. Corvettes, if any, are excluded from the new graph of 2018 as the majority of them have downgraded to offshore patrol vessels or their equipment is limited (sensors and/or armament) and therefore are suitable only for low-intensity conflicts. This applies for the classes Minerva, Floreal, D'Estienne d'Orves and Descubierta. Moreover, corvette types such as the Braunschweig class of the German Navy (five in commission), are also excluded, because even they carry a heavy armament this is not complete in comparison to a frigate as they lack ASW and point-AAW weapon systems. Other Navies also maintain an impressive amount of fast attack missile boats (FACM) instead of corvettes, therefore it would not be fair to included other types and to exclude others. Consequently, the following graph includes only major surface combatants, frigates and destroyers. Non-surface combatants such as the attack and ballistic missile submarines are excluded. Of course those types of boats can boost dramatically the capabilities of a naval force or even to discourage absolutely any naval battle if one of the naval opponent have a ballistic missile submarine in its inventory.But this is not the case.

The destroyers and frigates of the most powerful European Navies in 2018. For a high resolution image click here.

In the second infographic, named The Attack Submarines of Europe in 2017, I illustrate all the attack submarines that are in active service in Europe right now (and will continue to be part of their Navies until the end of 2017). Please note that the graph highlights those boats that are nuclear-powered (SSN), those that are equipped with Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP) and those that are not active the last years. Nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines are excluded from this graph. Therefore the four (4) Vanguard class submarines of the Royal Navy (United Kingdom) and the four (4) Triomphant class submarines of Marine Nationale (France) are not illustrated. Only two countries, United Kingdom and France operate nuclear-powered submarines while there are five countries that operate submarines equipped with Air-Independent Propulsion (AIP). The United Kingdom has by far the largest submarines among all the European countries. Romania actually has no submarine as its sole submarine, Delfinul, has been inactive since 1995.

The Attack Submarines of Europe in 2018 (updated). For a high resolution image click here.
Be aware also that the two graphs include only those countries that are located wholly or predominantly in Europe. Thus Turkey, Russia etc. are excluded from the two graphs despite the fact that they are considered European.

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