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The French SSBN ballistic missile submarine REDOUTABLE

(Source: http://www.cnet.com/pictures/a-tour-of-the-ballistic-missile-submarine-redoutable) Credits (& hat tip) to Geoffrey Morrison

Le Redoutable

The French nuclear submarine Redoutable spent the '70s and '80s at sea and was home to 135 sailors for months at a time.

at sea and was home to 135 sailors for months at a time. The “missile boat-turned-museum”

The “missile boat-turned-museum” now resides in the French seaside town of Cherbourg after extensive refurbishment.

seaside town of Cherbourg after extensive refurbishment. It's pretty much impossible to get a full shot

It's pretty much impossible to get a full shot of the sub, given where it rests. Let's just say, it's big the largest submarine you can tour without security clearance, and one of the only ballistic missile subs fully accessible to the general public.

It’s

See inside this massive submarine and silent threat of nuclear annihilation through many pictures and a bunch of words.

Tail 'n' prop You start your tour down (cut in specifically for this purpose) this

Tail 'n' prop

You start your tour down (cut in specifically for this purpose) this end, through a door that's just off to the left of this shot.

Modern subs don't usually use propellers like that (too loud).

just off to the left of this shot. Modern subs don't usually use propellers like that

Engine room

After the reactor generates steam, this steam spins some turbines, the turbines hit a reduction gear (all of this you'll see in a moment), and eventually it hits the prop shaft, which was cut away so you can walk more easily (the yellow cap is the end).

so you can walk more easily (the yellow cap is the end). Looking forward To the

Looking forward

To the left is where you enter, the yellow cap is the other half of the severed prop shaft. Above, you can see some of the big hydraulics that turn the rudder.

cap is the other half of the severed prop shaft. Above, you can see some of

Oil

If it doesn't run on electricity, it runs on hydraulics. Here, you can see one of the main hubs that direct the oil throughout the ship.

of the main hubs that direct the oil throughout the ship. Working our way forward On

Working our way forward

On the left, you can see the reduction gear (closeup in the next frame). Even though there's more space on this sub than most I've been on, they certainly don't waste any of it.

Even though there's more space on this sub than most I've been on, they certainly don't

Reduction gear

The turbines spin way too fast to directly turn the propeller, so a reduction gear is used.

directly turn the propeller, so a reduction gear is used. Where's Scotty? Those huge tubes carry

Where's Scotty?

Those huge tubes carry the high-pressure steam from the reactor to the turbines. These are heavily insulated, as you'd guess. On the right is one of two electrical generators (the other was removed during the museum conversion).

as you'd guess. On the right is one of two electrical generators (the other was removed

Tubes and tubes and tubes

A slightly different angle, showing the passage aft.

tubes A slightly different angle, showing the passage aft. Engine control room Man, this looks like

Engine control room

Man, this looks like a nuclear power station control room.

Oh, wait, it is. Along with all the other moving and dangerous parts of the "drivetrain."

station control room. Oh, wait, it is. Along with all the other moving and dangerous parts

Rear escape hatch

One of the few escape hatches. This thing looks creepy, even on dry land.

escape hatches. This thing looks creepy, even on dry land. Switches and circuit breakers A nuclear

Switches and circuit breakers

A nuclear sub is largely a power station that pushes around a missile base.

on dry land. Switches and circuit breakers A nuclear sub is largely a power station that

How do you tell?

I think it's quite interesting that there's little way to tell, for a layman, what or where any of these go. It's not like it says "guest room" or "kitchen" like the panel at your house.

room" or "kitchen" like the panel at your house. New-clear This was the reactor room. It

New-clear

This was the reactor room. It was wise that they removed the reactor completely for the museum refurb, since there was only a small space along the spine that allowed passage from the bow areas of the ship to the stern.

That and, you know, it's a nuclear reactor.

spine that allowed passage from the bow areas of the ship to the stern. That and,

Water, water everywhere

With nearly unlimited energy, a lot of very useful things can happen. You get propulsion, sure, but also electricity. And with electricity, you can take seawater and make pure drinking water. You can also separate out those pesky H molecules and make as much oxygen as your crew needs too.

CO2 scrubbers (lower left) take out that deadly gas.

too. CO2 scrubbers (lower left) take out that deadly gas. Missile room The Redoutable carried 16x

Missile room

The Redoutable carried 16x M20 ballistic missiles, each with a range of over 1,800 miles. That's what was in the two curved tubes you see here.

M20 ballistic missiles, each with a range of over 1,800 miles. That's what was in the

Creepy corridor

On the right are all the computers charged with programming the missiles with directions on how to get to their targets.

Along the left are all the missiles. They're blocked off now so you can't walk in and around them.

blocked off now so you can't walk in and around them. M20s Two of these missiles

M20s

Two of these missiles are more powerful than all the conventional explosives dropped in WWI and WWII combined.

them. M20s Two of these missiles are more powerful than all the conventional explosives dropped in

Be careful

Some things in here don't react too well to bullets.

Some things in here don't react too well to bullets. Never wet The missiles are fired

Never wet

The missiles are fired using compressed air and never actually get wet. As they breach the surface, their engines fire, quickly accelerating to over 9,000 mph.

air and never actually get wet. As they breach the surface, their engines fire, quickly accelerating

Two stories high

This is the top deck of the sub. The previous pictures were the main deck; the missiles extend above and below, as well.

the main deck; the missiles extend above and below, as well. Bridge Around the corner from

Bridge

Around the corner from the missile bay is the command center. The big box you see here is the inertial navigation system.

the corner from the missile bay is the command center. The big box you see here

Missile command

No joke -- this is where you'd launch the missiles, if so commanded.

is where you'd launch the missiles, if so commanded. Red Apparently they did actually use red

Red

Apparently they did actually use red lights during high alert and/or exercises. Also, throughout the rest of the ship, they'd use red lights to simulate night.

during high alert and/or exercises. Also, throughout the rest of the ship, they'd use red lights

Anybody got the keys?

Stick or automatic?

Anybody got the keys? Stick or automatic? Oh sure, bury the sound guy That console in

Oh sure, bury the sound guy

That console in the back is the sonar table, off in its own corner.

keys? Stick or automatic? Oh sure, bury the sound guy That console in the back is

Seismic anomaly?

Took the combined power of my phone's LED and the camera's (hardly ever used) flash. Still not great, but pretty good for the dark.

The sonar station, where ears are the eyes of the boat.

for the dark. The sonar station, where ears are the eyes of the boat. Down periscope

Down periscope

Periscopes for the XO and captain.

for the dark. The sonar station, where ears are the eyes of the boat. Down periscope

Hatch up the sail

Very few subs let you climb up into the sail. Not sure why. Is climbing a liability?

up into the sail. Not sure why. Is climbing a liability? A hallway! All of a

A hallway!

All of a sudden, we've left a submarine and entered a '70s kitsch hotel that's been squished from the sides.

All of a sudden, we've left a submarine and entered a '70s kitsch hotel that's been

Captain's bunk

The wide-angle lens makes this look bigger than it was, but by sub standards, it was still pretty roomy.

it was, but by sub standards, it was still pretty roomy. Officers' galley Of course, the

Officers' galley

Of course, the French would have an espresso maker! That can't be original equipment, can it?

Officers' galley Of course, the French would have an espresso maker! That can't be original equipment,

Officers' mess

This is the single nicest space I've ever seen on a submarine. Downright cozy.

Officers' mess This is the single nicest space I've ever seen on a submarine. Downright cozy.
Officers' mess This is the single nicest space I've ever seen on a submarine. Downright cozy.

Stylish, too

Nice design to cover the curve of the hull. Quite a lovely space

reserved

for officers, of course.

hull. Quite a lovely space reserved for officers, of course. Downstairs Most of the subs I've

Downstairs

Most of the subs I've been on have been one floor only (plus the sail). This one not only has stairs, but an elevator (OK, a dumbwaiter, but still).

on have been one floor only (plus the sail). This one not only has stairs, but

Screen door

Well, that doesn't look water-tight (but the towels will help!).

doesn't look water-tight (but the towels will help!). Pantry The only thing that prevents a sub

Pantry

The only thing that prevents a sub from touring indefinitely is having sufficient food for the crew. So as much as possible goes in here. Normal tours were about 70 days.

indefinitely is having sufficient food for the crew. So as much as possible goes in here.

Mess

How's this for a big wide-open space? The crew's mess, a place to eat and relax while off duty.

space? The crew's mess, a place to eat and relax while off duty. Galley Even the

Galley

Even the galley is impressively sized.

space? The crew's mess, a place to eat and relax while off duty. Galley Even the

8 on, 16 off

Normal crew rotation is for 8 hours on duty, 8 hours for sleep, and 8 hours for everything else, including studying, maintenance, relaxing, and so on.

else, including studying, maintenance, relaxing, and so on. No hot bunks Apparently the Redoutable was the

No hot bunks

Apparently the Redoutable was the first sub to have enough space for every member of its crew to get their own bunk. Now, that's luxury!

was the first sub to have enough space for every member of its crew to get

I'm a doctor, not a dentist

Through the (not original, obviously) glass in the floor, you can see the chair of the ship's doctor, which doubles as the dentist's chair, for the ship's dentist, who also doubles as the ship's doctor.

dentist, who also doubles as the ship's doctor. Head With access to an unlimited water supply,

Head

With access to an unlimited water supply, there are sinks and showers galore (relatively speaking).

doctor. Head With access to an unlimited water supply, there are sinks and showers galore (relatively

Torpedo room

Unlike most subs, a 'boomer' (US Navy slang for ballistic missile submarine) has torpedo tubes for defensive use only.

missile submarine) has torpedo tubes for defensive use only. Torpedo tube The torpedoes the Redoutable carried

Torpedo tube

The torpedoes the Redoutable carried had a range of about nine miles.

torpedo tubes for defensive use only. Torpedo tube The torpedoes the Redoutable carried had a range

Hulls

Thanks to a cutaway for the exit door, you can see the inner pressure hull and the exterior hull.

door, you can see the inner pressure hull and the exterior hull. Ladder? Cross bracing for

Ladder?

Cross bracing for sure, but a ladder? Who knew?

door, you can see the inner pressure hull and the exterior hull. Ladder? Cross bracing for

Sail

Normally subs cruise from around 164 to 656 feet below the surface. Unless they're headed for the legendary "periscope depth."

headed for the legendary "periscope depth." Hatches The 16 missile hatches, with the lovely Cherbourg

Hatches

The 16 missile hatches, with the lovely Cherbourg harbor in the background.

legendary "periscope depth." Hatches The 16 missile hatches, with the lovely Cherbourg harbor in the background.

Long boat

Out of the water, it looks huge. I can only imagine how much sleeker it looked while cruising.

looks huge. I can only imagine how much sleeker it looked while cruising. Prop Many modern

Prop

Many modern subs use pump-jets instead.

looks huge. I can only imagine how much sleeker it looked while cruising. Prop Many modern

Under the long keel

This is a view I didn't expect. You can actually walk all around it, even touch the rudder. It's coarser than you'd expect.

touch the rudder. It's coarser than you'd expect. Seams I would have expected a smoother overall

Seams

I would have expected a smoother overall surface, but then, it's not like they can forge it out of a single piece of steel.

have expected a smoother overall surface, but then, it's not like they can forge it out

Dive planes

The dive planes on the sail help the sub fine-tune its depth, or assist in surfacing and submerging.

fine-tune its depth, or assist in surfacing and submerging. Quietly into history The Redoutable 's long

Quietly into history

The Redoutable's long and graceful lines sit peacefully next to Cherbourg harbor. Not a bad way to spend retirement (considering the alternatives).

lines sit peacefully next to Cherbourg harbor. Not a bad way to spend retirement (considering the

The End