How does the submarine fire a torpedo?


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How does the submarine fire a torpedo
How does the submarine fire a torpedo
Torpedo tubes of the French SNLE Redoutable: French submarines use pistons to push the torpedo outside the tube, instead of blowing it out with compressed air. (photo: – How does the fire a torpedo? I bet not many people know how it works, don't you? So, if you are curious to the answer, let's discuss in this post!

Torpedo, a-self-propelled underwater weapon designed to launch above or below the water surface is equipped with an explosive warhead. It can detonate or contact with or in proximity to the targets. This underwater projectile has been used strictly from the 19th century for the battleship and used to give a great effect during the World War I. Interestingly, it experiences some constant changes and refinement allowing it to modern one with lightweights, as well as straight-running, automated homers, or wire-guided and can be launched from a variety of platforms.

Importantly before the launching process, the torpedo is located at a torpedo tube. It's like a cylinder-shape device and installed aboard surface vessels. Deck-mounted torpedo launchers are usually built for a specific type of torpedo, while submarine torpedo tubes are general-purpose launchers, and are often capable of discharging mines and cruise missiles too.

submarine fire a torpedo
MU90 Impact triple launcher onboard F221 Hessen, a modern Sachsen-class frigate of the German Navy (photo:

How does the submarine fire a torpedo?

So, the first important thing is to assure that the locking lugs are in the right configuration to avoid the torpedo sliding forward and backward. The forward locking lug is in the load position while the back one is in the up position. Then, the breach door is open to slide the torpedo in. Additionally, this can also be done by using hydraulic system. When the torpedo has moved against the locking lug in the tube, the locking lug comes down and secure the torpedo and the breach door is closed and locked. The Torpedo is now stably located in the tube and ready to fire.

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How does the submarine fire a torpedo
A simplified diagram of a submarine torpedo tube (photo:

Unfortunately, it is not the time yet! There actually some sequences need to take place. First, the tube has to be flooded, started by opening a valve to allow water to flood the container called Water Round Torpedo (WRT) tank. Then the valve up top needs to be open too in order to release the air as it is filled up with water. As the torpedo tube is being filled with water from the WRT tank, it definitely goes up to the vent line. At the top, there is electrode that senses the seawater.

At this phase, the valve on top and on the bottom close and the torpedo as the tube is filled with water. However, the problem is that there is a lower pressure inside the boat compared to the outside. As generally known that the deeper a submarine goes, the higher the pressures it has. Therefore, the most crucial thing to do is to equalize the system. This function is performed by equalizing valve. When this thing is turned, the pressure inside the tube will now be equal to that outside the ocean. At the same time, it is important to relocate the slide valve. At this time, the slide valve also need to be moved. Slide valve refers to a moveable section of the tube about halfway down the torpedo that circularly covers all of the several rectangular pores through which water can enter. Then, the water can be dumped into torpedo tube. At this point, the torpedo is completely ready to fire.

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When the fire instruction comes from the control room, both the locking lugs retract, allowing the torpedo to move longitudinally, and pressurized water from an impulse tank to provides a massive amount of pressure through which will then be introduced into the torpedo tube through all of the rectangular holes covered by the slide valve. This extra water force the torpedo out the front of the submarine.

To conclude, a torpedo launch of the naval warfare seems to be the least visible aspect to show, since the nature of submarine warfare means that none ever witness the torpedo tube mechanism and how the torpedo is pushed from its tube. This is because the submarine's crew is on the other side of a pressurized hull and unable to follow the chain of events after loading the torpedo and ordering the launch. That's how it works submarine fire a torpedo.

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