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The British mothballed the four boats not long after building them, as the Royal Navy’s sub strategy shifted away from diesal boats toward an all-nuclear force. A fatal fire aboard Chicoutimi and continued breakdowns have generated questions about their seaworthiness, much less their combat capabilities.
Germany, Sweden and China are all having good success with a new technology, called Air Independent Propulsion (AIP) for diesel-electric submarines. It eliminates the traditional weakness of the time-proven diesel submarine design – which requires the boat to either surface or use a “snorkel” to vent fumes and draw in fresh air when the diesel engine is employed to operate the sub or to charge its batteries.