Spain’s general economic woes, which have reduced the defence budget by 30 per cent since 2008, have taken a turn for the worse following the revelation that the first of the navy’s new S 80A class submarines exceeds it’s design displacement by at least 75 tonnes. Such an amount could compromise its ability to surface once submerged.

The more feasible of two possible solutions to the problem is also the most expensive. An option to increase the buoyancy of the hull by lengthening it has been costed at more than €7.5 million per metre and could delay the 2015 in-service date by two years. The alternative is to trim weight. The vessel’s builder, Navantia, has blamed the debacle on ‘meddling’ by unqualified people.

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