The Royal Navy's all-nuclear-powered submarine force arrived just a few years after it accepted for service four modern diesel-electric submarines of the Upholder (S-40) class (designated SSK for hunter-killer). The decision to retire these excellent boats was made for financial reasons following the Cold War. This note reviews the Upholders and their retirement from the fleet.
In the early 1970s, the Royal Navy planned a submarine force of 18 nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs) and 4 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), with no SSKs. The SSN construction rate, however, could not keep pace; thus, the Royal Navy decided in the late 1970s to build a new class of 10 modern SSKs, the Upholders. When they were proposed, the Royal Navy still operated several SSKs (P and 0 classes) that had been built between 1955 and 1961.