Walrus-class: The submarine that sank a US aircraft carrier
Walrus Zeeleeuw-class submarine in Mk48 mod 7 torpedo tests

HNLMS Walrus managed to infiltrate the US Navy screen and “sink” several ships, including the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).

The Royal Dutch Navy’s Walrus-class submarine has demonstrated its impressive capability in numerous military exercises and classified missions since its inception in the 1980s. These diesel-electric submarines have particularly surprised the US Navy in joint exercises.

Origin of the Walrus Class and its Characteristics

The Walrus class emerged as an evolution of the Zwaardvis class submarines, significantly improving its machinery and design. The first submarine to enter service was HNLMS Zeeleeuw (S803), although HNLMS Walrus (S802) gave the class its name.

With a displacement of 2,450 tons, a length of 67.5 meters and a beam of 8.4 meters, these submarines have a double-deck hull configuration and are built in high-strength steel. Its “X” design stands out for the immersion planes and rudders, which require advanced computerized control.

Walrus-class submarines can carry up to twenty torpedoes or forty mines and are equipped with UGM-84 Harpoon surface-to-surface missiles.

 Here is a brief history of the Walrus class and its characteristics:

History: The Walrus class was developed in the 1980s to replace the aging Zwaardvis class submarines, which had been in service since the 1970s. The new class was designed to have improved capabilities, including the ability to operate in shallow waters and perform various missions, including anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, and special operations.


  1. Dimensions: The Walrus class submarines are 68.6 meters long, 8.4 meters wide, and have a draft of 6.5 meters. They displace approximately 2,800 tons.
  2. Propulsion: The submarines are powered by a diesel-electric propulsion system consisting of four MTU 16V 396 diesel engines and a Siemens Permasyn electric motor. They can achieve a maximum speed of 20 knots while submerged and 11 knots on the surface.
  3. Armament: The submarines are armed with eight 533mm torpedo tubes, which can launch a variety of torpedoes, including the Mk 48 ADCAP and the Harpoon anti-ship missile. They also have the capability to launch mines and deploy special forces.
  4. Sensor Systems: The Walrus class submarines are equipped with various sensor systems, including a passive sonar system, a radar warning receiver, and an electronic support measures system. They also have a towed array sonar system for detecting longer-range submarines.
  5. Crew and Accommodations: The submarines have a crew of approximately 55 sailors and officers and can accommodate up to 16 special forces personnel. They also have a galley, a mess area, and bunks for the crew.
  6. Other Capabilities: The Walrus class submarines are equipped with a variety of other capabilities, including a snorkel for air intake while submerged, a water purification system, and a waste management system.

The Walrus class submarines are highly capable and versatile vessels that can perform a variety of missions. Their combination of propulsion, armament, and sensor systems make them a valuable asset to the Royal Netherlands Navy and other global navies.

Performance in international military exercises

Walrus-class submarines have participated in international military exercises and highly classified operations. In a multinational exercise in 1999, HNLMS Walrus managed to infiltrate the US Navy screen and “sink” several ships, including the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71).

NATO highly prizes these submarines for their quiet operation, which allows them to conduct discreet intelligence and surveillance operations.

The Future of the Walrus class

Despite plans announced in 2014 by the Dutch Ministry of Defense to develop a new class of submarines to replace the Walrus class, the Dutch parliament decided in April 2022 to extend the service of at least two submarines of this class until mid-June. the 2030s.

The Walrus class will continue to be a major asset to the Royal Dutch Navy and NATO for years to come, proving its ability to deal with modern threats and maintain maritime security.

A legacy of innovation and effectiveness

The Walrus class reflects the Royal Dutch Navy’s rich history in military submarine design and its commitment to innovation. These submarines will continue to play a key role in naval operations and international defense and security cooperation.