Indian Navy

Top 10 Conventional Submarines Of All Times

Hello Defence Lovers and enthusiasts, In this article, we are going to discuss the top 10 conventional submarines of all times. We will judge them by their number produced, technical specifications, and kills if any.

A conventional Submarine is a type of submarine which is powered by conventional sources of energy, mainly diesel and sometimes fuel cells. These are generally designated by “SSK” where k stands for Hunter-Killer.

10. I-400-class submarine

At number 10 we have Imperial Japanese I-400 class submarine. It is the most unique and the most insane submarine on our list as it is not only a submarine but an underwater aircraft carrier. it was a double hull submarine which could also carry 3 aircraft in it. perhaps this was the most remarkable innovation of the Imperial Japanese Navy but was too late.

Displacement6,560 long tons
Number of units produced3
Aichi M6A1 Seiran sea-planes
8 × 533 mm forward torpedo tubes
1 × 14 cm/40 11th Year Type naval gun
3 × 25 mm triple-mounted Type 96 autocannon (9 barrels total)
1 × single-mounted 25 mm Type 96 autocannon

9. Foxtrot-class submarine

At number 9 we have the soviet foxtrot class submarines. These were the backbone of the Soviet submarine fleet at its time. The Soviet Union deployed 4 of these in the Cuban missile crisis. It was also the first submarine of the Indian Navy. INS Kalvari hailed from this class. Although these played a limited role in the 1971 war due to restriction in target acquisition policy, later along with the vela class became the workhorse of the Indian Submarine arm. According to the information available in the public domain, this submarine has zero kills. INS Karanj belonging to this class has been featured in the movie “The Gazi Attack”.

Displacement2,475 long tons
Number of units produced74
armaments10 × torpedo tubes (6 bow, 4 stern)
22 torpedoes

8. Daphné-class submarine

At number 8 we have the french Daphné-class submarine. She was the most advance conventionally powered submarine of her time. The daphné-class submarine is the only submarine which has a kill after the second world war.

Displacement1,038 tonnes submerged
Number of units produced25
armaments12 × 550 mm torpedo tubes (8 at the bow, 4 at the stern)
12 torpedoes or missiles
Kills1 (INS Khukri)

7. Oyashio-class submarine

At number 7 we have the Japanese Oyashio-class submarine. Japan operates 11 of these vessels. Some of these are named after the world war II imperial japanese ship names. These are very capable submarines with large endurace.

Displacement4000 tons
Number of units produced11
6 × HU-605 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes with 20 reload for:
1.) Type 89 torpedoes
2.) UGM-84 Harpoon

6. Type 209 submarine

At number 6 we have the German type 209 submarine. These are operated by Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Greece, India, Indonesia, Peru, South Africa, South Korea, Turkey and Venezuela. Two of these subs were deployed by the Argentinian navy against the British fleet. despite firing at least 3 torpedoes, these did not score any kills in the Falkland war.

Displacement1850 tons
Number of units produced61
armaments14 × AEG-SUT Mod-1 torpedoes
24 × external strap-on mines
UGM-84L Harpoon Block II missiles
Killsfailed attacks on the British fleet in the Falkland war

Also Read, Chinese Submarines An “Underwater Orchestra”

5. Kilo-class submarine

At number 5 we have the Soviet Kilo class submarine. This submarine is widely used by countries across the world. 8 navies as of now operate them including. The Lada class is its successor. Kilo class forms the backbone of Indian Submarine arm at present.

Displacement3000 tons
Number of units produced73
armaments6 x 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes
18 torpedoes
4 Kalibr / Club land-attack cruise missile, anti-ship missile and anti-submarine missile
24 mines
8 9K34 Strela-3 (SA-N-8 Gremlin) or 8 9K310 Igla-1 (SA-N-10 Gimlet) Surface-to-air missiles

4. Sōryū-class submarine

At Number 4 we have the most advance Japanese submarine ever built. It is the Third japanese submarine in our list equiped with modern sensors and equipment along with deadly weapon systems. It is among the quietest submarines on our list.

DisplacementSubmerged: 4,200 t 
Number of units produced11
6 × HU-606 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes with 30 reload for:
1.) Type 89 torpedo
2.) Harpoon (missile)

3. Gotland-class submarine

At number three we have the Swedish Gotland-class submarine. It is the most stealthiest submarine on our list. Equipped with state of the art aip system and ultra quiet machinery, it is almost undetectable. It managed to escape the sonars of entire carrier battle group of US Navy in an exercise a got a simulated kill. Its prey was USS Ronald Reagan! This tiny submarine has the potential to sink such a mighty aircraft carrier.

DisplacementSubmerged: 1,599 tonnes
Number of units produced3
armaments4 × 533 mm (21.0 in) Torpedo tubes
2 × 400 mm (15.7 in) Torpedo tubes
48 × Externally Mounted Naval Mines
KillsSimulated Aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan kill in war exercise

2. Scorpène-class submarine

At number two we have the French Scorpene-class. It is the most advanced conventional submarine in service of navies worldwide. 4 navies including the Indian Navy operate them. These are equipped with state of the art systems including a modern Air Independent propulsion system which enables it to remain underwater for 3 weeks.

Displacement1775 tons
Number of units produced9 completed 18 planned
armaments6 × 533 mm (21 in) torpedo tubes for 18 Whitehead Alenia Sistemi Subacquei Black Shark heavyweight torpedoes and SM-39 Exocet anti-ship missiles and 30 mines in place of torpedoes

1. U-boat

At number one we have the German U boat. The German U boat is perhaps the most successful submarine of all time. The term u boat usually is used for a class of submarines. There are over 50 U boat designs that were produced. The U boat caused heavy casualties to the allied forces in both world wars. Nazy Germany had over 1500 u boats which sunk over 5000 vessels during the second world war. U boats paved the way for future submarine and added a new dimension in naval combat.

Displacement283 ton to 2000+ ton
Number of units produced1,500+
armamentsDifferent configurations
configuration of most successful U 48, scoring 55 confirmed kills
6 × torpedo tubes (4 bow, 2 stern)
22 × 53.3 cm (21 in) torpedoes
1 × 10.5 cm (4.1 in) SK C/32 deck gun (180 rounds)
1 × 3.7 cm (1.5 in) SK C/30 AA gun
1 × twin 2 cm FlaK 30 AA guns
Kills5,000 merchant ships sunk
104 warships sunk 42 warships damaged 61 Q-ships sunk

Sheershoo Deb

I am a defense aspirant preparing to be an officer in the prestigious Indian armed forces. Earning the prestigious blue uniform is my dream.


  1. The Barbel class submarines really need to be on this list. Incase you haven’t heard of the class they were the last class if diesel electric submarines the US Navy had. They were basically conventionally powered Skipjack class submarines. I don’t know how people can have an interest in subs and never mention either class. I mean they were only the first submarines in 100 years to utilize the teardrop shape hull and single screw propulsion. It’s not like 90 percent of subs designed in the last 50 years look almost exactly like them. It’s also not like several Western and Asian Navies built exact or upgraded versions of the Barbel class. It’s definitely not important at all that they also pioneered the modern layout of the control/combat room everyone now uses. If you’ve never heard of the Barbel class I urge you to look them up, they are worth several articles in their own right.

    Also you guys really don’t need to worry about China. They messed up when they treated their women like crap and killed off so very many and chased away so many more. By the 2040’s to 2050’s the bulk of their population will be too old to fight effectively. Right now they cannot take mass casualties and they know it too. They go to war and their country dies. You guys just have to keep playing the long game and if a fight does ever happen if the Indian military can bleed China deep and fast in 1 or 2 engagements that might be all it would take. Most people here in America like you guys much more than the Chinese. And your food is on another level.

  2. You have forgotten the U-212A class adopted nowadays by the german and italian navy which have AIP and it’s capable of 20 Knots submerged with a very low acoustic signature.

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