Infographic: Are nuclear submarines better?

AL JAZEERABy Mohammed Haddad 21 Sep 2021

Submarines can either be diesel-electric or nuclear-powered, both types can carry nuclear warheads. Here’s how they differ.

(Al Jazeera)

Australia has recently cancelled a multibillion-dollar order for diesel-electric submarines from France in favour of nuclear-powered vessels from the United States and the United Kingdom, setting off an unprecedented diplomatic dispute between the allies.

Canberra scrapped the $66bn order on Wednesday as it announced it was joining a new security alliance – dubbed AUKUS – with the US and the UK in an apparent attempt to counter China.KEEP READINGInfographic: Which countries still have the death penalty?Infographic: All you need to know about Iraq’s electionInfographic: Nobel Prize winners 1901-2021Infographic: How the price of petrol has changed (2001-2021)

France has since recalled its ambassadors to the US and Australia, saying the move was a “stab in the back”. French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian in an interview on France 2 television decried the “duplicity, disdain and lies” behind the Australian move.

What is the difference between the French submarines and those the UK and US will supply? And, is a nuclear-powered submarine better than a conventional one?

Types of submarines

Submarines can either be diesel-electric or nuclear-powered. Either type can hold nuclear warheads. Here’s how they differ.



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