Royal Navy unveils radical future submarine concepts

The Royal Navy has unveiled a series of futuristic submarine concepts that mimic real marine lifeforms. The concepts aim to inspire the future of underwater combat technology.

The concepts feature a crewed mothership shaped like a manta ray and cone-shaped torpedoes to swarm around an enemy target.

The work is the result of the UK's brightest and most talented young engineers and scientists following a design challenge by the Royal Navy to imagine what a future submarine would look like and how it would be used to keep Britain safe in decades to come.

Commander Peter Pipkin, the Royal Navy's Fleet Robotics Officer, said: “Today's Royal Navy is one of the most technologically advanced forces in the world, and that's because we have always sought to think differently and come up with ideas that challenge traditional thinking. If only 10% of these ideas become reality, it will put us at the cutting edge.”

Unlike the submarines of today, which perform multiple roles in one hull, it is envisaged that the Royal Navy of the future would operate a family of submarines of various shapes and sizes, both manned and unmanned, to fulfill a variety of tasks.

The whale shark/manta ray-shaped mothership would be built from super-strong alloys and acrylics, with surfaces that are able to morph in shape. With hybrid algae-electric cruising power and propulsion technologies including tunnel drives that work similarly to a Dyson bladeless fan, the submarine could travel at unprecedented speeds of up to 150 knots.

Rear Admiral Tim Hodgson, the Ministry of Defence's Director of Submarine Capability, said: “We want to encourage our engineers of the future to be bold, think radically and push boundaries.

“The Royal Navy's success has always rested on a combination of technology and human skill.

“The pace of global innovation is only going to increase, so for the UK to be a leader in this race it needs to maintain its leadership in skills and technology. Hopefully this project has inspired the next generation of British scientists to be bold in their ambitions.”