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US Navy SSNs Through the Years


Oct 15, 2014
United States

displacement: 3533 tons (surfaced), 4092 tons (submerged); length: 323.8'; beam: 27.8'; draft: 22'; speed: 22 kt (surfaced), 25 kt (submerged); test depth: 700'; armament: 6-21" torpedo tubes; complement: 13 officers - 92 enlisted men
Keel laid by the Electric Boat Division, General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, CT: June 14, 1952
Launched: January 21, 1954; Sponsored by Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower
Commissioned: September 30, 1954 with CDR Eugene P. Wilkinson in command
Crossed the North Pole: August 3, 1958 with CDR William R. Anderson in command
Decommissioned: March 3, 1980
Number of Dives: 2,507
Total Nautical Miles Steamed: 513,550

descended from a long line of proud fighting ships, and was the sixth ship of the fleet to bear the name. NAUTILUS first appeared on the Navy List as a schooner of twelve guns. Under the command of Lieutenant. Richard Somers, she was with Commodore Preble's squadron in the Mediterranean during the campaign against the Tripolitan pirates. Her battle plaque was inscribed with the names Tripoli and Derne from this early war of our infant Navy. She continued in service until she was captured by a British squadron at the outbreak of the War of 1812.

NAUTILUS next appeared as a schooner which was commissioned in 1847 and played a role in the war with Mexico.

In 1911, NAUTILUS made her first appearance in the submarine force, although later that year her name was changed to H-2. Built in San Francisco, she saw service until 1922 when she was decommissioned.

During World War I, the name and tradition were carried on by a Motor Patrol Boat commissioned in 1917 and assigned to patrol and escort duty.

The fifth NAUTILUS, SS-168, was built at Mare Island Naval Shipyard in 1930 and was one of the largest submarines ever built for our Navy. With the outbreak of the war in the Pacific, NAUTILUS quickly joined the fight and established the reputation which was to characterize her through the next three years of combat. On her first war patrol, she sank the Japanese aircraft carrier Soryu which had been previously damaged by aerial attacks in the Battle of Midway.

On December 12, 1951, the Navy Department announced that the world's first nuclear submarine, SSN-571, would carry the name NAUTILUS. Construction of NAUTILUS was made possible by the successful development of a nuclear propulsion plant by a group of scientists and engineers at the Naval Reactors Branch of the Atomic Energy Commission, under the leadership of Captain Hyman G. Rickover, USN. Authorized by Congress in July 1951, her keel was laid on June 14, 1952 at the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, Connecticut., by President Harry S. Truman. A year and a half later, on January 21, 1954, Mrs. Dwight D. Eisenhower broke the traditional bottle of champagne across her bow as NAUTILUS slid down the ways into the Thames River.

On September 30, 1954, NAUTILUS became a commissioned ship in the United States Navy. Present on this occasion were many distinguished guests, including Admiral Donald H. Duncan, Vice Chief of Naval Operations, and Admiral Jerauld Wright, Commander in Chief, U.S. Atlantic Fleet. In the commissioning speech Admiral Wright stated, "Today the Navy turns a channel marker in the course of history", and indeed they did.

However, many months of painstaking construction and dockside testing followed. The nuclear propulsion plant was designed and constructed for the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission and the U.S. Navy by the Westinghouse Electric Corporation, and first operated on December 20, 1954. The plant developed full power alongside the dock on January 3, 1955.

On the morning of January 17, 1955, at 1100 hours EST, NAUTILUS' Commanding Officer, Commander Eugene P. Wilkinson, USN, ordered all lines cast off and signaled the memorable and historic message "UNDERWAY ON NUCLEAR POWER", to the Submarine Force Commander, thus adding a new page to world and naval history.

On April 22, 1955, after rigorous and detailed testing of the ship's surface and submerged capabilities, USS NAUTILUS (SSN-571) was preliminarily accepted by the United States Navy.

The following month NAUTILUS headed for southern waters on her first shakedown cruise. Travelling 1,381 miles in 89.9 hours, from New London to San Juan, Puerto Rico, she established several new records. It was the longest distrance travelled, by a factor of ten, and the longest period of complete submergence for any submarine. It was also the first time a combatant submarine had maintained such a high submerged speed, about 16 knots average, for more than one hour. This was the fastest passage between New London and Puerto Rico by any submarine, surfaced or submerged.

From July 11, 1955 to August 5, 1955, rigorous exercises were conducted with hunter-killer groups in the Narraganset Bay areas and off the coast of Bermuda. These exercises were designed to investigate the effect of the radical increase in submerged speed and endurance of the NAUTILUS on submarine and anti-submarine warfare.

From September 20 to October 8, NAUTILUS visited Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Annapolis, Maryland, Norfolk, Virginia and Newport, Rhode Island to demonstrate the ship to various military personnel. During this period approximately 300 senior officers rode the ship at sea and another 2,500 military personnel boarded her in port.

During November and December, Bureau of Ships special tests were conducted, including standardization trials at Provincetown, Massachusetts.

On November 27, 1955, with the Honorable Charles S. Thomas, Secretary of the Navy, Lewis L. Strauss, Chairman of the Atomic Energy Commission, and other Navy and AEC officials present, NAUTILUS completed her 25,000th nautical mile.

On December 2, the ship commenced a restricted availability for the installation of new sonar equipment and the repair of minor defects observed during the preceding year.

Following the availability and a month of operations in the New London area, the ship, on March 19, departed for Key West, Florida, conducting special tests enroute. Many Bureau of Ships tests were conducted in the Key West area.

On completion of the tests, on April 20, NAUTILUS returned to New London from Key West, a submerged run of 1,152 miles. During the 35-day cruise in southern wters, the ship was underway 531 hours, 376 of which were spent entirely submerged.

From May 8 to May 10 the ship was demonstrated to the Navy's Board of Inspection and Survey for final acceptance trials, and on May 11, 1956, the USS NAUTILUS (SSN-571) was accepted by the Navy "for unrestricted service". This final acceptance of such a truly unique ship is a tribute to the reliability of this vessel, a characteristic of which predominated her history.

In February 1957, after local operations and a leave and upkeep period, NAUTILUS entered the Electric Boat yard in Groton, Connecticut for her first refueling. On her first Uranium fuel core NAUTILUS steamed 62,562 miles in two years, over half of which were completely submerged. To duplicate this performance a conventionally-powered submarine the size of NAUTILUS would have required over two million gallons of diesel fuel.

On April 11, 1957, NAUTILUS departed Electric Boat and commenced a month of local operations, operating with her nuclear sister ship, USS SEAWOLF (SSN-575), to and from Bermuda. During this period she also participated in Operation REMEMBER in New York City, and had an opportunity to proudly show herself off to the dependents of the crew during four days of short cruises.

On May 15, 1957, NAUTILUS deployed to the Pacific to demonstrate her capabilities to units of the Pacific Fleet, including participation in a large-scale fleet exercise called Operation HOMERUN. During her transit to the Pacific, NAUTILUS established another new record by cruising from the Panama Canal to San Diego, California completely submerged, a distance of 3,049 miles. Her sole reason for surfacing on the cruise was to transit the Panama Canal.

On visits to Seattle, Portland, Everett, Port Townsend, Tacoma, San Francisco, Long Beach, San Diego and Panama, NAUTILUS played host to more than 13,000 visitors, 1,100 of whom were taken to sea.

On June 18, 1957, at Seattle, Washington, Commander William R. Anderson, USN, relieved Captain Eugene P. Wilkinson, USN as Commanding Officer of NAUTILUS. At the Change of Command ceremony Captain Wilkinson was presented the Legion of Merit by Rear Admiral A. M. Bledsoe, Commandant, THIRTEENTH Naval District, for the Secretary of the Navy.

NAUTILUS returned to New London in July 1957 and had an availability until August 19 to prepare her for her next trip, which took her to latitude 87-degrees North -- 180 miles from the North Pole, and further north than any ship previously. NAUTILUS steamed 1,383 miles under the polar ice cap on three excursions lasting a total of five and one-half days. On her way to the Arctic, NAUTILUS completed a dive of 287 hours, covering 4,039 miles. This polar trip was of great scientific importance. In the area in which she operated, NAUTILUS was able to gather many times the amount of data on ice characteristics and water depths than previously obtained in the whole of arctic exploration.

Following her northern trip, NAUTILUS participated in Operation STRIKEBACK, a Norwegian Sea exercise. While in European waters NAUTILUS visited Rothesay and Faslane, Scotland; Portland and Plymouth, England; and LeHavre, France. These were the first foreign ports ever visited by NAUTILUS. NAUTILUS took to sea such distinguished visitors as Lord Louis Mountbattan, England's First Sea Lord; Mr. Duncan Sandys, England's Minister of Defense; Mr. Christopher Soames, Parliamentary Secretary to the Admiralty; and a host of England's top AEC representatives and civilian contractors who were later responsible for building the HMS DREADNAUGHT, the first nuclear-powered submarine in Great Britain's fleet.

NAUTILUS returned to her home port on October 28, 1957 and immediately began an availability period for upkeep and repair which lasted throughout the remainder of the year.

In February 1958, NAUTILUS completed upkeep and commenced operating locally out of New London. On April 1 she became a unit of Submarine Squadron TEN under the command of Captain T. K. Kimmel, USN, and was assigned to the first nuclear division, Submarine Division 102.

On March 10, 1958, NAUTILUS was commended by the Honorable Thomas S. Gates, Secretary of the Navy, for her pioneering voyage under the Arctic ice cap the previous fall.

On April 25, NAUTILUS was underway again from New London, enroute to the west coast via the Panama Canal. The ship stopped at San Diego and San Francisco, California, and Seattle, Washington.

On June 9, 1958, NAUTILUS departed Seattle under TOP SECRET orders to conduct Operation SUNSHINE, the first crossing of the North Pole by a ship. NAUTILUS passed through the Aleutian Island chain and transitted the Bearing Sea. On June 17, the ship entered the shallow Chukchi Sea, but was forced to turn back to Pearl Harbor due to a combination of deep ship draft and shallow water.

On July 23, 1958, NAUTILUS departed Pearl Harbor and set course northward on the voyage which, when completed, was one of the major historic accomplishments of the 20th century. Passage into the shallow Chukchi Sea, where NAUTILUS surfaced, was uneventful. On August 1, after two days of searching along the edge of the ice pack for deep water, NAUTILUS submerged in the Barrow Sea Valley and headed north.

At 2315 EDST, on August 3, 1958, Commander William R. Anderson announced to the crew "For the world, Our Country and the Navy - the North Pole". With 116 men on board, NAUTILUS had accomplished the "impossible" - reaching the geographic North Pole, 90-degrees North.

After 96 hours and 1,830 miles submerged under the ice, USS NAUTILUS surfaced in the Greenland Sea, on August 5, 1958.

Commander Anderson was flown from Iceland to Washington, D.C., where he was presented the Legion of Merit by President Eisenhower. Upon Commander Anderson's return to NAUTILUS, she proceeded to Portland, England where Ambassador John Hay Whitney presented the first Presidential Unit Citation ever issued in peacetime.

NAUTILUS departed Portland on August 18 and surfaced off New York City, having established another submarine "first" among many. She travelled over 3,100 miles submerged in six days, 11 hours and 55 minutes, at an average speed of more than 20 knots.

On her arrival in New York Harbor NAUTILUS was greeted with a hero's welcome. The city opened her doors to the officers and crew with the traditional ticker-tape parade.

NAUTILUS returned to New London, Connecticut on August 29, 1958, for an upkeep period and a well deserved rest, which lasted until October. For the remainder of the year and into the early part of 1959, NAUTILUS participated in various local operations and fleet exercises.

On May 29, 1959, NAUTILUS entered Portsmouth Naval Shipyard, Kittery, Maine for her first complete overhaul - the first of any nuclear powered ship - and the replacement of her second fuel core.

On June 22, 1959 Lieutenant Commander Lando. W. Zech, Jr., USN, relieved Commander W. R. Anderson, USN, to become NAUTILUS' third Commanding Officer.

Upon completion of her overhaul, on August 15, 1960, NAUTILUS departed for the New Hampshire/Maine area to rejoin her sisters in Submarine Squadron TEN. Following a period of refresher training she deployed to the Mediterranean Sea to become the first nuclear submarine assigned to the U.S. Sixth Fleet.

NAUTILUS returned to New London on December 16, 1960, having travelled more than 175,000 miles on nuclear power since becoming a commissioned ship in the United States Navy.

On January 17, 1961, the Sixth Anniversary of NAUTILUS' first "UNDERWAY ON NUCLEAR POWER", the Honorable William B. Franke, Secretary of the Navy, in behalf of the President of the United States, presented Vice Admiral Hyman G. Rickover, USN, the Distinguished Service Medal in recognition of his exceptionally meritorious service to the Government of the United States. The presentation took place aboard NAUTILUS and was witnessed by His Excellency Herve Alphand, Ambassador from the Republic of France, and other Navy, AEC and civilian officials. This day also marked the keel laying of the Polaris Submarine USS LAFAYETTE (SSBN-616). Symbolically, the power used for the initial keel weld of the LAFAYETTE was furnished by NAUTILUS' nuclear reactor.

During January and February 1961, NAUTILUS participated in operations in the Western Atlantic which included a weekend in Bermuda. NAUTILUS visited Portsmouth, England in March, 1961. This enjoyable stay was highlighted by a day at sea with 20 members of parliament embarked.

NAUTILUS spent the month of July in the Key West area engaged in test and evaluation. After returning to New London the ship then proceeded to Quonset Point, Rhode Island, on August 7, where the Honorable Paul B. Fay, Jr., Under Secretary of the Navy, accompanied by Vice Admiral Elton W. Grenfell, USN, Commander Submarine Force, U.S. Atlantic Fleet, was embarked for an overnight demonstration cruise. Upon completion of the cruise NAUTILUS returned to New London.

In 1962 NAUTILUS participated in various fleet exercises. On April 20, 1962, Commander Jeffrey C. Metzel, Jr., USN, became the fourth Commanding Officer of NAUTILUS, relieving CDR L. W. Zech.

On July 1, 1962, NAUTILUS was awarded the Battle Efficiency "E" award for Submarine Division 102. Operations in the Summer and Fall of 1962 included participation in the naval quarantine during the Cuban missile crisis.

In early-1963, NAUTILUS was engaged in the evaluation of anti-submarine warfare defense. On March 25, 1963 NAUTILUS became the first ship to cruise one-quarter of a million miles on nuclear power.

During the remainder of the Spring and early-Summer of 1963, NAUTILUS operated independently conducting a variety of evaluation and training exercises.

In August 1963, NAUTILUS again departed New London for the Mediterranean Sea, to operate as a unit of the U.S. Sixth Fleet. During a visit to Toulon, France, NAUTILUS was host to the Great Great Grandson of Jules Verne, the author of Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea. During this same cruise NAUTILUS visited Naples, Italy. The NAUTILUS received letters of commendation from Commander, U.S. Naval Forces Europe, and the Commander, U.S. Sixth Fleet, for her performance during this cruise.

NAUTILUS returned to New London in late-September and on October 12, 1963, her fifth Commanding Officer, Commander Francis C. Fogarty, USN, read his orders and assumed command.

The remainder of the year saw NAUTILUS participating in a major fleet exercise involving units of the U.S. Second Fleet, and in several SSN versus SSN anti-submarine warfare exercises. These latter exercises proved to be of significant value in increasing the level of knowledge of how to employ the SSN weapons system. Also included in this trip was an enjoyable and welcome visit to Bermuda.

NAUTILUS returned to New London in mid-December and immediately commenced a pre-overhaul upkeep in preparation for her forthcoming shipyard overhaul.

On January 16, 1964, NAUTILUS departed New London enroute to her second complete overhaul. She arrived in Portsmouth, New Hampshire on the occasion of her Ninth Anniversary of "UNDERWAY ON NUCLEAR POWER", January 17. The total number of miles steamed when NAUTILUS shut down her reactor was 284,599, of which 220,714 were spent entirely submerged.

NAUTILUS rejoined the Atlantic Fleet Submarine Force in the Spring of 1966. On September 14, she re-entered the record books when she logged her 300,000th mile on nuclear power.

On April 3, 1967, NAUTILUS welcomed her sixth Commanding Officer, CDR Norman E. Griggs. During the Spring and Summer of 1967 NAUTILUS supported various Atlantic Fleet ASW exercises.

On August 15, 1967, NAUTILUS entered Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for a refueling availability. In December, 1968 she again returned to the fleet and for all of 1969 she operated with the ASW, HUK and submarine elements of the Atlantic Fleet.

On January 31, 1970, CDR David W. Crockfield, USN, assumed command of NAUTILUS and she commenced a period of crew training and ASW support operations for the rest of 1970.

In the Spring of 1971, NAUTILUS deployed for NATO exercises and a trip to Faslane, Scotland. In early-1972 she moved to SUBASE New London for a repair availability.

In June 1972, CDR Alex Anckonie III assumed command of NAUTILUS and in August of that same year, she entered Electric Boat Shipyard for a complete overhaul. She had steamed for a total of nearly 400,000 miles since the historic days of 1954-1955.

The overhaul was completed on January 15, 1975. Following overhaul, NAUTILUS completed a shakedown cruise in Caribbean waters.

In the Spring of 1975, NAUTILUS partipated in a major Second Fleet exercise, AGATE PUNCH, after which she was cited by Commander, Cruiser-Destroyer Group TWELVE as "Not getting older -- getting better!"

Completing a Mediterranean deployment in September, NAUTILUS participated in the NATO exercise OCEAN SAFARI, conducted in the Norwegian Sea and the Arctic Ocean. She had steamed over 35,000 miles in the eventful year of 1975.

NAUTILUS completed various operations in the Spring and Summer of 1976. During a Bicentennial Weekend, COMSUBLANT awarded NAUTILUS a White "A" for Antisubmarine Warfare Weapons and Operations Excellence.

Operations in 1976 included at-sea evaluations of a major OPNAV project sponsored by Naval Underwater Systems Center, New London and the Navy's Operational Testing and Evaluation Force.

On December 19, 1976, CDR Alex Anckonie III, USN, was relieved by CDR Richard A. Riddell, USN, NAUTILUS' ninth Commanding Officer, in ceremonies held at sea off Bermuda, British West Indies.

During January and February, 1977, NAUTILUS conducted a research project in the Gulf of Mexico.

In April, 1977, NAUTILUS began a five-month deployment to the Mediterranean Sea. During this period, she participated in fleet exercises with ships, aircraft and submarines of the U.S. Sixth Fleet and NATO forces. She visited the ports of Lisbon, Portugal; Sousse, Tunisia; Taranto, Italy; Naples, Italy and La Maddalena, Sardinia. NAUTILUS returned to New London in September.

In March and April, 1978, NAUTILUS was involved in a CNO oceanographic project and, during the project, paid a port visit to Bermuda, British West Indies.

In December, 1978, NAUTILUS conducted exercises with U.S. and Canadian forces and visited Halifax, Nova Scotia.

In the Spring of 1979, NAUTILUS set out from Groton, Connecticut on her final voyage. She reached Mare Island Naval Shipyard, Vallejo, California on May 26, 1979, her last day underway. She was decommissioned on March 3, 1980 after a career spanning 25 years and almost half a million miles.

In recognition of her pioneering role in the practical use of nuclear power, NAUTILUS was designated a National Historic Landmark by the Secretary of the Interior on May 20, 1982. Following an extensive historic ship conversion at Mare Island Naval Shipyard, NAUTILUS was towed to Groton, Connecticut arriving on July 6, 1985.

On April 11, 1986, eighty-six years to the day after the birth of the Submarine Force, Historic Ship NAUTILUS and the Submarine Force Museum opened to the public as the First and Finest exhibit of its kind in the world, providing an exciting, visible link between yesterday's Submarine Force and the Submarine Force of tomorrow.

SSN 575 Seawolf

Complement: 101 Officers and Enlisted
Displacement: 3260 tons
Length: 350 feet
Beam: 28 feet
Draft: 23 feet
Flank Speed: 23 knots

A solitary fish with strong, prominent teeth and projecting tusks that give it a savage look.

Seawolf- (SS-28)- was renamed H-1 (q.v.) on 17 November 1911.

The second Seawolf (SSN-575) was laid down on 7 September 1953 by General Dynamics Corp. (Electric Boat Co. Div.), Groton, Conn.; launched on 21 July 1955; sponsored by Mrs. W. Sterling Cole; and commissioned on 30 March 1957, Comdr. R. B. Laning in command.

Seawolf departed New London on 2 April for her shakedown cruise off Bermuda and returned on 8 May. Between 16 May and 5 August, she made two voyages to Key West and participated in intensive training exercises. On 3 September, she steamed across the North Atlantic to participate in North Atlantic Treaty Organization exercises. The submarine surfaced off Newport, R.I., on 25 September after cruising 6,331 nonstop miles. The next day, President Dwight D. Eisenhower embarked and was taken for a short cruise onboard her.

Seawolf cruised to the Caribbean for an exercise in November. In December, she began an availability period that lasted until 6 February 1958. She then participated in exercises along the east coast until early August.

Seawolf submerged on 7 August and did not surface again until 6 October. During this period, she logged over 13,700 nautical miles, demonstrating to the world the ability of the nuclear-powered submarine to remain independent of the earth's atmosphere for the period of a normal war patrol.

Seawolf returned to General Dynamics Corp., on 12 December 1958 for refueling and conversion of her power plant from a sodium cooled to a pressurized water cooled reactor and was out of commission until 30 September 1960.

Seawolf began a three-week period of independent operations on 25 October and returned to fleet operations in November and December.

On 9 January 1961, Seawolf sailed to San Juan to participate in local operations. On the 25th, she was ordered to locate and track the Portuguese passenger liner Santa Maria which had been seized by pirates two days earlier. The submarine made contact with the liner off the coast of Brazil on 1 February.

After Santa Maria surrendered in Recife, the submarine returned to San Juan and continued east coast operations.

On 7 July, Seawolf began a two-month oceanographic voyage which took her to Portsmouth, England, before returning her to New London on 19 September 1961.

The submarine participated in various local and fleet operations until April 1964. On the 28th, Seawolf stood out of New London en route to the Mediterranean Sea and a three and one-half month deployment with the 6th Fleet. During the period, she operated with Enterprise (CVAN-65), Long Beach (CLGN-9), and Bainbridge (DLGN-26) as a part of the world's first nuclear task force. More local east coast exercises followed until 5 May 1965. On that date, the submarine entered the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard for an extensive overhaul and refueling that lasted until September 1966.

Seawolf sailed from Portsmouth on 24 August 1967 for New London which was again her home port. The following month, she sailed to the Caribbean for refresher training and weapons trials. She had to have a propeller replaced at Charleston in early October and then conducted sea trials in the Bahama Islands for the remainder of the month. The end of the year 1967 found her back at her home port.

In January 1968, Seawolf was operating from that port when she grounded off the coast of Maine on the 30th. She was towed back to New London for repairs and did not put to sea again until 20 March 1969 when she began sea trials. The submarine was in the Caribbean during June and July conducting underwater sound and weapons systems tests. Seawolf was deployed with the 6th Fleet from 29 September to 21 December 1969.

Seawolf operated along the east coast until 9 November 1970 when her home port was changed to Vallejo, Calif., and she sailed for the west coast. The submarine transited the Panama Canal on the 17th and changed operational control to Submarine Force, Pacific Fleet. She entered drydock at Mare Island Naval Shipyard on 8 January 1971 for overhaul and conversion to a special project platform and remained there until 21 June 1973 when she moved up the coast to Bangor, Wash.

Seawolf returned to Mare Island on 4 September 1973 and into August 1974 is still operating from that port.

SSN 575 used a liquid sodium reactor - Liquid Sodium Reactor Powered USS Seawolf Was Part of First Nuclear Task Force | Defense Media Network


Skate Class Submarine:

Laid down, 21 July 1955, at General Dynamics Corp. Electric Boat Co. Div., Groton, CT.; Launched, 16 May 1957; Commissioned, USS Skate (SSN-578), 23 December 1957; Decommissioned, 12 September 1986; Struck from the Naval Register, 30 October 1986; Final Disposition, disposed through NPSSRP (Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program) at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, WA., 14 April 1994 to 6 March 1995.

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 2,570 t., Submerged: 2,861 t.; Length 267' 8" ; Beam 25'; Draft 20'; Speed, Surfaced 23 kts, Submerged 18+ kts; Complement 8 Officers, 75 Enlisted; Armament, six 21" torpedo tubes, Propulsion, pressurized water cooled reactor, steam turbines, two propellers.

The USS Skate (SSN-578)-class nuclear hunter-killer submarines quickly followed Nautilus, and were a modest evolution on the basic Nautilus design. The four Skate class nuclear powered fast attack submarines were the first series produced nuclear submarines to join the US Navy, all four authorized in FY1955. They joined the fleet in 1957-59. They demonstrated a new range of operational effectiveness, from the deep ocean, to the shallows, and the polar regions. These were the vessels John Holland would have built but for the limits of science and technology at the turn of the 20th century.

The need for a nuclear propulsion plant similar to that of Nautilus but smaller, suitable for smaller subs, soon became apparent. Bettis Atomic Power Lab was given the assignment. This plant, know as the Submarine Fleet Reactor uses pressurized water reactor similar to that used in Nautilus, hut is much simpler and contains several improvements in operation and maintenance. Five subs - Skate (SSN 578), Swordfish (SSN 579), Sargo (SSN 583), Seadragon (SSN 584) and Halibut (SSN 587) - are powered by this type plant. The first four of this class are attack subs; Halibut was the first Navy submarine to be designed from the keel up as a guided missile submarine.

Skate was commissioned 23 Dec. 1957. On 24 Feb. 1958, she departed New London on her shakedown cruise and, eight days and 11 hours later, arrived at Portland, England. Her 176-hour submerged transit of the Atlantic had set a new west-east record. On her return trip, Skate surfaced off Block Island seven days and five hours after departing Lizard Head, breaking still another record. She was the first submarine to make the transatlantic voyages to England and return while submerged. In August, Skate crossed under the North Pole while exploring undersea routes beneath the polar ice cap. During this trip, she spent 10 days and 14 hours and traveled slightly more than 2400 miles under the ice. She surfaced within the icepack nine times. One of these surfacings was near the International Geophysical Year's Floating Ice Station Alfa, where scientific information was exchanged with the resident scientists. With only a slight air of facetiousness, she claimed to be the first submarine to go around the world in one hour. She circumnavigated the North Pole on a circular course within one mile of the pole.

In March 1959, Skate made another extensive trip under the polar ice cap - this time in winter. During this trip, she traveled 11,495 miles, 11,220 of which were submerged and more than 3000 under the polar ice cap. She broke through the polar ice to surface on 10 occasions. Slightly less than five years after her commissioning Skate entered the yards to receive her first refueling and overhaul. She had steamed 120,862 miles, of which 105,683 were submerged, on her first core.

SWORDFISH was commissioned on 15 Sept. 1958, and Sargo followed with her commissioning on 1 October. Sargo also did extensive polar exploration. Sailing from Pearl Harbor, she entered the Arctic Basin by way of the Bering and Chukchi Seas. Fitted with a new ice-berg-detecting sonar, she proved that it is possible for a nuclear powered submarine to cross this shallow route at any time of the year. Numerous ice ridges, some extending as much as 100 feet deep, were encountered. On many occasions, it was necessary for her to split the distance from the ice to the ocean floor, clearing each by just a few feet. She returned to the open Pacific through the Bering Sea. She had traveled 6000 miles in 31 days, and surfaced 20 times. Usually, it was necessary to break through the ice before she could surface. Assigned to the Pacific Fleet after her commissioning on 5 Dec. 1959, Seadragon reached the Pacific via the Northwest Passage during August 1960. She remained in the Arctic Basin during August and, on the 24th, became the fourth U. S. submarine to reach the North Pole. Another, but less-than-monumental first was, achieved - the first baseball game held on the pack ice between the officers and enlisted members of the crew. Two years later, on 2 Aug. 1962, Skate and Seadragon rendezvoused under the ice at the North Pole, conducted antisubmarine warfare exercises and surfaced together at the Pole.

These boats were not considered as successful as the Skipjack class which shortly followed them, but they did serve as front-line submarines during the Cold War. They were withdrawn from service from 1984 to 1989 and all were scrapped in 1995.


SSN-585 Skipjack


Displacement 3,070 tons surfaced
3,513 tons submerged
Length 252
Beam 31 feet
Speed 15 knots surfaced
29 knots submerged
Test Depth 700 feet
Power Plant One nuclear reactor, two steam turbines, one shaft

Skipjack Class was the first "top to bottom" new attack submarine design using nuclear propulsion. In 1954 the USS Nautilus, the world's first nuclear powered submarine, was launched. Nuclear power enabled this submarine to become the first true "submersible" - able to operate underwater for an indefinite period of time. In 1958 the the USS Albacore entered service with a "tear drop" hull design to reduce underwater resistance and allow greater submerged speed and maneuverability.

The first submarine class to combine nuclear power with the new hull design was the USS Skipjack. USS Skipjack was also unique in that it was the first nuclear submarine with a single shaft. Placement of the bow planes on the sail greatly reduced flow noise at the bow-mounted sonar. Deep-diving and high speed capabilities were the result of HY-80 construction and a new reactor design, the S5W. This reactor became the US Navys standard until the Los Angeles class joined the fleet in the mid-1970s.
SSN 589 SCORPION was lost on 22 May 1968 with 12 officers and 87 enlisted men -- one of the worst casualties in the Navy's history. Based on prior experience with such problems and an analysis of the accoustic signature of the Scorpion loss, the Navy initially concluded that the most probable cause of the loss of the Scorpion was the launch of an inadvertently activated torpedo, which turned and struck the submarine. A six-month search eventually located the Scorpion's wreckage some 400 miles southwest of the Azores. Investigation of the boat's wreckage on the ocean floor found no evidence of torpedo damage. A six-month expedition in 1969 by Trieste II found no direct evidence to support the theory that the Scorpion was destroyed by a torpedo. While some portions of the Scorpion's hull were never found, the wreckage that was examined did not exhibit the conditions expected from the hydrostatic implosion of a submarine hull structure.

In 1970 a Navy panel completed a classified report that disavowed the Court of Inquiry's conclusion. Instead of an accidental torpedo strike, the new group suggested a mechanical failure caused an irreparable leak that flooded the submarine. That report said the bulk of the evidence suggested an internal explosion in the sub's massive electrical battery caused the sub to flood and sink. The large number of accoustic signals detected from the loss of the Scorpion was characteristic of a submarine going through deep depths after experiencing substantial flooding, rather than an intact submarine passing through collapse depth. At the time of its loss, the boat had a history of unresolved maintenance problems, poorly functioning safety systems, and had received an extremely abbreviated overhaul prior to its final mission.

SSN 589 Scorpion was lost with all hands


USS Triton (SSRN-586) - Nuclear Radar picket


Initially, Triton's designation was as a Submarine Ship, Radar, Nuclear (SSRN) to act as an early warning Radar Picket boat similar to the mission of the Radar Picket destroyers that were stationed in the North Atlantic and North Pacific. The radar picket mission was to operate at high speed, on the surface, ahead of a task force, to provide intelligence information, electronic surveillance, and to control fighter aircraft interception.

Unusual Attributes

  • During shakedown cruise, circumnavigated the earth, submerged.
  • First vessel to execute a submerged circumnavigation of the earth.
  • Only twin reactor submarine built by the U.S.
  • Only U.S. nuclear submarine with an after torpedo room, and the last U.S. submarine built with one.
  • Huge Combat Information Center (CIC).
  • Only U.S. nuclear submarine to have a conning tower in the sail, and the last U.S. submarine built with one.
  • Only U.S. nuclear submarine to have twin screws, and the last U.S. submarine to have them.
  • Longest U.S. submarine until the Ohio Class was built in the 1980s.
  • Unlike later U.S. submarines, Triton did not have an oxygen replenishment system that used electrolysis of water to create oxygen to replenish the air in the boat. instead, the boat raised a snorkel mast at night to replenish the air.
  • Probably the last U.S. submarine to have a snorkel. All future submarines ran in a "sealed hull" configuration, something that Triton could not do because it didn't have an oxygen replenishment system.
  • The first nuclear submarine to be withdrawn from service.


USS Triton (SSRN/SSN-586), a nuclear-powered radar picket submarine, was the first vessel to execute a submerged circumnavigation of the Earth which was accomplished during its shakedown cruise in early 1960.

Triton was the second submarine and the fifth ship of the United States Navy to be named for Triton, a Greek demigod of the sea who was the son of Poseidon and Amphitrite.

Her keel was laid down on 29 May 1956 in Groton, Connecticut, by the Electric Boat Division of the General Dynamics Corporation. She was launched on 19 August 1958, sponsored by Mrs. John Will, and commissioned on 10 November 1959 with Captain Edward L. Beach in command.

Triton was designed in the mid-1950s as a radar picket submarine able to operate at high speed, on the surface, ahead of a task force, providing intelligence information, electronic surveillance, and to control fighter aircraft interception. Triton would then submerge to avoid attack and operate as a fully operational submarine. To achieve this high speed, Triton was designed with two reactor propulsion plants (the only United States nuclear submarine ever to have been thus built), a knife-like bow, and a high reserve buoyancy. She was the last submarine to have a conning tower (a water-tight compartment built into the sail). She was also the last American submarine to have twin screws or a stern torpedo room. According to a History Channel special on American submarines, the Triton was capable of 55 MPH.

Until the commissioning of the Ohio-class ballistic missile submarines, Triton was the longest submarine ever built by the Navy. Her length presented Electric Boat with many problems during her construction. She was so long that her bow obstructed the slipways railway facility used for transporting material around the yard, so the lower half of her bow was cut away and re-attached just days prior to her launch. Similarly, the last 50 feet (15 m) of her stern had to be built on an adjoining slipway and added before she was launched. Her sail was found to be too high to go under the scaffolding, so the top 12 feet (4 m) of the sail were cut away and re-attached later.

Circumnavigation of the World

Triton departed New London on 16 February 1960 for what was announced as her shakedown cruise. Her crew had been told to prepare for a longer than normal voyage, but not why or for how long. She reached St. Peter and Paul Rocks on 24 February, then turned south, her crew now informed that they would be sailing around the world without surfacing.

As Triton passed the east coast of South America, Chief Radarman John R. Poole, began suffering from a kidney stone. His symptoms, beginning on 1 March, were intermittent, so the boat continued south. On 3 March, Triton raised the Falkland Islands on radar and prepared to conduct photoreconnaissance of Port Stanley, but before they could sight the islands, Poole's condition worsened so that Captain Beach ordered their course reversed and send a radio message describing the situation. Triton rendezvoused with the heavy cruiser USS Macon (CA-132) off Montevideo and transferred Poole. That broaching was the only time Triton would surface during the circumnavigation, and Poole was the only crew member who did not complete the voyage.

Returning south, Triton passed to the west of the Falklands, and rounded Cape Horn through Estrecho de le Maire on 7 March. Captain Beach allowed all members of his crew to view the Horn through the periscope, making five reverses of course to keep it in sight long enough.

Passing into the Pacific Ocean Triton next raised Easter Island, first by radar, then by periscope. She photographed the northeastern coast for some two and a half hours before spotting the statue Thor Heyerdahl had erected. Again all crewmen were invited to observe through the periscope.

On 23 March Triton crossed the International Date Line and lost 24 March from her calendar.

On 27 March she passed the point of closest approach to the location where the previous Triton was lost during World War II, and a memorial service was held to commemorate the occasion. A submerged naval gun salute was fired to honor the lost crew when three water-slugs were shot in quick succession from the forward torpedo tubes.

On the morning of 28 March Triton raised Guam and observed activity on shore. Petty Officer Edward Carbullido, who had been born on Guam but had not returned home for 14 years, was asked to identify his parents' house through the periscope while the boat remained submerged in Agat Bay.

On 31 March, Triton passed from the Philippine Sea through the Surigao Strait into the Mindanao Sea, then through the Bohol Strait into the Camotes Sea. On 1 April, she raised Mactan Island and shortly before noon sighted the monument commemorating the death of Ferdinand Magellan at that site, and was in turn sighted by the only unauthorized person to spot the submarine during her secret voyage - a young Filipino man in a small dugout canoe about 50 yards off Tritons beam, later identified as nineteen-year-old Rufino Baring. That afternoon, Triton proceeded through Hilutangan Channel into the Sulu Sea. She proceeded over the next few days through the Sibutu Passage, across the Celebes Sea, through the Makassar Strait into the Java Sea and thence to the Flores Sea and through Lombok Strait.

On 5 April Triton entered the Indian Ocean. The transition was dramatically sharp as the change in salinity and density of the seawater caused a depth excursion: Triton abruptly dove from periscope depth to 125 feet in about 40 seconds. While crossing the Indian Ocean, Triton conducted an experiment: beginning on 10 April, rather than refreshing the air in the boat by snorkeling each night, she remained sealed, using compressed air to make up for consumed oxygen, and in addition on 15 April, the smoking lamp was extinguished - no tobacco smoking was permitted anywhere aboard.

On Easter Sunday, 17 April, Triton rounded the Cape of Good Hope and entered the South Atlantic Ocean. The smoking lamp was relighted on 18 April, the three days of prohibition having taken a noticeable toll on the crew's morale. Rather than passing the word in a tradition manner, Captain Beach demonstrated the lifting of the ban by walking though the boat smoking a cigar, blowing smoke in people's faces, and asking them "don't you wish you could do this?" He recorded in his log that "it took some 37 seconds for the word to get around." On 20 April, Triton crossed the Prime Meridian, and on 24 April, the sealed atmosphere experiment was terminated.

On 25 April, St. Peter and Paul Rocks were sighted and the circumnavigation completed. Triton then proceeded to Tenerife in the Canary Islands where she arrived on 30 April, thence setting course for Cadiz to complete another mission: the delivery of a plaque created on board the boat for this purpose. On 2 May, Triton rendezvoused with USS John W. Weeks (DD-701) and transferred to her a plaque that had been created during the voyage, a brass disk about 23 inches (58.5 cm) in diameter, bearing a sailing ship reminiscent of Ferdinand Magellan's carrack Victoria above the US submarine dolphin insignia with the years 1519 and 1960 between them, all within a laurel wreath. Outside the wreath is the motto AVE NOBILIS DUX, ITERUM FACTUM EST ("Hail Noble Captain, It Is Done Again"). Weeks delivered the plaque to the American ambassador John Davis Lodge to Spain who presented it to the Spanish government.

Triton returned to the United States, surfacing off the coast of Delaware on 10 May. She arrived back at Groton, Connecticut, on 10 May, having completed the first submerged circumnavigation of the earth. Triton received the Presidential Unit Citation and Captain Beach received the Legion of Merit from President of the United States Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Triton Light at the United States Naval Academy commemorates her voyage. Triton also received a Navy Unit Commendation.

The November 1960 issue of National Geographic Magazine (Vol. 118, No. 5) featured an article on Triton's circumnavigation by Captain Beach ("Triton Follows Magellan's Wake").


Following her post-shakedown availability, Triton deployed to European waters with the Second Fleet to participate in NATO exercises against British naval forces led by the aircraft carriers Ark Royal and Hermes under the command of Rear Admiral Sir Charles Madden. Triton climaxed the deployment with a port visit to Bremerhaven, West Germany, the first visit by a nuclear-powered ship to a European port.

For the first half of 1961, Triton conducted operational patrols and training exercises with the Atlantic Fleet. During this period, the rising threat posed by Soviet submarine forces increased the Navy's demands for nuclear-powered attack submarines with antisubmarine warfare (ASW) capability. Accordingly, upon the demise of the Navy's radar picket submarine program, Triton was redesignated to hull classification symbol SSN-586 on 1 March 1961 and entered the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in June 1962 for conversion to an attack submarine. Her crew complement was reduced from 172 men to 159. The Navy had no plans to use her radar picket capability, but she still carried her BPS-2 search radar and could have fulfilled this role. She was overhauled and refueled at Groton, Connecticut, from September 1962 to January 1964.

In March 1964, upon completion of this overhaul, Triton's home port was changed from New London, Connecticut, to Norfolk, Virginia. On 13 April 1964, Triton became the flagship for the Submarine Force, Atlantic Fleet, and served in that role until relieved by submarine Ray (SSN-653) on 1 June 1967. Eleven days later, Triton was shifted to her original home port of New London.


Because of cutbacks in defense spending, Triton's scheduled 1967 overhaul was cancelled, and the submarine - along with 60 other vessels - was scheduled for inactivation. From October 1968 through May 1969, the submarine underwent preservation and inactivation processes and was decommissioned on 3 May 1969. On 6 May, Triton departed New London under tow and proceeded to Norfolk where she was placed in the inactive fleet. She remained berthed at Norfolk into at least 1991.

On 30 April 1986, ex-Triton was stricken from the Naval Vessel Registry and the hulk was berthed in the Bremerton Naval Shipyard, Bremerton, Washington to await her turn through the Nuclear Powered Ship and Submarine Recycling Program. Triton entered drydock at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in October 2007 for recycling. Starting in late 2007, she was taken apart in Drydock.

The graving dock is where decommissioned submarines are towed for disassembly. Note that the tail planes are painted green. Some degree of disassembly is apparent from looking closely. Ballistic missile submarines have their missile and nuclear power plant compartments removed and then the tail welded to the front portion of the boat. The missile compartment is removed to meet requirements of the 1972 SALT 1 Treaty that limits the number of missile launch tubes by both the Soviet Union and the U.S. The nuclear reactor is removed to store it where radiation will not be a hazard and to keep its design details secret. It is believed that Triton is not shown in this picture because it had long since been dismantled prior to this photograph. Note that in the photo of the bows of the third and fifth boats above the pier have been altered by a vertical cut to the picture, perhaps to hide a secret design of bow-mounted hydrophones.


In May 1956 the Navy laid down what was intended as the first of a series of nuclear-powered radar picket submarines. This was USS Triton (SSRN-586), which at 448 feet long and nearly 6,000 tons surface displacement, emerged as the longest U.S. submarine ever built until the appearance of the USS Ohio (SSBN-726) class in the early 1980s.

Triton was unique among U.S. submarines in carrying a propulsion plant with two nuclear reactors, each an S4G rated at 22,000 horsepower. She was also the last U.S. submarine to have a conning tower inside the sail, twin screws, and an after torpedo room. Like Sailfish and Salmon, she was optimized for high surface speed - with a knife-like bow and ample reserve buoyancy - and reportedly, she exceeded 30 knots on her trials.

USS TRITON SSN 586 was designed to be fast enough to operate with a fast carrier task force. One of the largest submarines ever built, Triton was 447 feet long, displaced more than 7700 tons submerged, and carried a crew of approximately 170. Her keel was laid 29 May 1956, she was launched 19 August 1958, and was commissioned 10 November 1959. She had two pressurized water reactors, one for each of her two propellers.

Although like the most recent Submarine Search Radar boats (SSRs), Triton mounted her air-search radar on the sail where it could be stowed within the fairwater for submergence, her newer AN/SPS-26 was scanned electronically in elevation, so no separate height-finding radar was required. With three deck levels beneath the sail, there was ample room for dedicated air-control facilities just below the control room/attack center.

Triton was commissioned in November 1959 with the decorated World War II submarine skipper - and later distinguished naval author - CAPT Edward L. Beach, in command. For Triton's maiden voyage/shakedown cruise, Beach was ordered to attempt the first submerged circumnavigation of the globe, and the ship departed New London on 16 February 1960, not to return until 10 May, 84 days and 41,500 nautical miles later. This unprecedented success brought significant international prestige to the nation and the Navy, and by maintaining a steady speed of 21 knots for nearly three months, Triton firmly established the endurance and reliability of nuclear propulsion. In recognition, President Dwight D. Eisenhower awarded the ship and her crew a Presidential Unit Citation after their return.

Triton joined 2nd Fleet in August 1960, and soon thereafter, she deployed to European waters to assume her role as a radar picket in a series of NATO exercises. And then. . . the bottom dropped out of her primary mission.

With the successful introduction of carrier-borne early warning aircraft in 1958 - first the Grumman E-1B Tracer, and then the successor E-2 Hawkeye in 1964 - the requirement for surface radar pickets soon faded, and the SSR/SSRN mission was quickly phased out. Thus, in March 1961, Triton was reclassified as an attack submarine (SSN) and overhauled at Portsmouth between 1962 and 1964 to refuel her reactors and convert her for a new role. Even though she was too large to be effective as an attack boat, Triton - now SSN-586 - served gamely at Norfolk as flagship of COMSUBLANT until June 1967, but nonetheless she had become an expensive white elephant. Although plans were floated to use her large, surviving CIC space as an alternative national emergency command post, these never came to fruition, and when a planned 1967 overhaul was cancelled because of defense cutbacks, her days were numbered. Triton was subsequently inactivated and then decommissioned in May 1969 - the first nuclear-powered submarine to be withdrawn from service.


SSN-594 Permit class

Displacement 4,200 tons submerged
3,540 tons Light Displacement
Length 278 feet
297 feet SSN-605
292 feet SSN-613-615
Beam 32 feet
Draft 28 ft Maximum Navigational Draft
Speed official - 20-plus knots
actual - 30 knots [35 mph] submerged
actual - 15 knots [17 mph] tactical
Operating Depth official: 400 feet
Actual: 1300 feet [400 meters] test depth
Actual: 1900 feet [600 meters] collapse depth
Construction High Yield-80 (HY-80) steel alloy
Power Plant One S5W nuclear reactor
two steam turbines, one shaft, 15,000 shp
Armament MK 48 Torpedoes, four torpedo tubes
UGM-84A/C Harpoon
MK 57 deep water mines
MK 60 CAPTOR mines
Sensors BQQ-5 bow-mounted sonar
TB-16 Towed Sonar Array
Complement 143

In 1956 Admiral Arleigh Burke, then CNO, requested that the Committee on Undersea Warfare of the National Academy of Sciences to study the effect of advanced technology on submarine warfare. The result of this study, dubbed "Project Nobska" was an increased emphasis on deeper-diving, ultraquiet designs utilizing long-range sonar. The Permit class was based on Project Nobskas recommendations. Hull streamlining, reduction in sail dimensions by approximately 50%, quieting of the propulsion plant and an increase in test depth all led to a dramatic advance in submarine operational capabilities and stealth.

The SSN-594 Permit class was the world's first modern, quiet, deep-diving fast attack submarines, integrating such advanced features as a hydrodynamically shaped hull, a large bow mounted sonar array, advanced sound-silencing features, and an integrated control/attack center with the proven S5W reactor plant. These submarines were a major advance over previous submarine designs, and established the pattern of all successive American attack submarine classes, in several extremely important respects:
  • They were the first submarines to have hulls constructed of High Yield-80 (HY-80) steel alloy, which allowed operations at substantially greater depths than previous submarines.
  • They were the first submarines to have raft mountings for turbines, motors and other equipment, resulting in substantially quieter operations.
  • They were the first submarines to have a large bow-mounted sonar requiring the installation of torpedo tubes amidships, aft of the forward crew compartment.

Although they were larger than the previous SSN 585 Skipjack class, and used the same nuclear power plant, their hull design did not compromise their underwater speed. Designed for prolonged periods submerged, they were limited only by the amount of food that she can carry, and were capable of sustained operation at high speed.
These submarines were originally designated the THRESHER class, but the USS Thresher (SSN 593) was lost 200 miles off the coast of New England on 10 April 1963. According to investigators, a seawater pipe in the aft engine spaces broke, spraying water into the engine room and shorting one of the main electrical bus boards. The sub lost electrical power and couldn't operate the reactor. Darkness, a sea mist, and sheer terror inhibited the crew from manually actuating the valves. The aft part of the sub filled up with water and tilted down. With no power to get back on line, the sub drifted down to crush depth and imploded. A ghastly death for an entire crew, and one the US Navy vowed never to allow happen again.

The ill-fated USS Thresher (SSN-593) and her crew did not suffer in vain. Out of that terror and the lessons learned grew the SubSafe Program. Through this program, every submarine in the US Fleet, every pressure hull integrity-related system aboard those subs, and every pressure-related part within those systems must be certified as being 100% safe for use on a submarine. The goals are to ensure that in case of a casualty, the ship and its crew can be recovered and to ensure that the integrity of the material used on the ship can operate at design test depth. Directly related to the Thresher tragedy, sea-connected joints can no longer be brazed; they must now be welded. The SubSafe program brought other controls, too. Now when an emergency arises aboard a sub, all vital equipment which sailors would need quick access to in the event of an emergency is clearly marked and easily accessible. At all times an operator is one second away from flipping the emergency main ballast tanks to vent, so the sub can rise to the surface.

The Navy took other steps to ensure such a tragedy never occur again. Following the recommendations of a special Presidential Deep Submergence Review Group, the Deep Submergence Rescue System was developed in the mid-1960s. The deep submergence rescue vehicles Mystic (DSRV 1) and Avalon (DSRV 2) of the Deep Submergence Unit are the genesis of that program.

The last three units of this class [Flasher, Greenling, Gato] were modified during construction to incorporate lessons learned from the loss of the Thresher. Fitted with heavier machinery and a larger sail, they were ten feet longer than the other units of the class to correct stability problems caused by weight growth.
The SSN 605 Jack was fitted with an experimental direct-drive propulsion system coupled with a pair of counter-rotating propellers. The engine spaces were lengthened by ten feet and the shaft was lengthened by seven feet to accomodate this additional equipment. Although counter-rotating propellers had previously produced impressive gains in speed on the experimental Albacore, in this instance the results were disappointing and led to the abandoment of this approach in subsequent submarine design.

SSN 597 Tullibee

General characteristics
Type: Nuclear submarine
Displacement: 2,316 long tons (2,353 t) surfaced
2,607 long tons (2,649 t) submerged
Length: 273 ft (83 m)
Beam: 23 ft 7 in (7.19 m)
Draft: 21 ft (6.4 m)
Propulsion: S2C reactor
Speed: 13 knots (24 km/h; 15 mph) surfaced
14.8 knots (27.4 km/h; 17.0 mph) submerged
Complement: 6 officers and 60 enlisted
Armament: 4 × 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tube

USS Tullibee (SSN 597) was the first of what was intended to be a series of quiet, nuclear-powered hunter-killer submarines. She was designed for anti-submarine warfare, a new mission for submarines. Although the 14th nuclear-powered sub for the United States, she was the first with turbo-electric drive (TED), and could remain on station silently awaiting her prey, and pounce without warning. She had a low-frequency passive array for long range detection – called Passive Underwater Fire Control Feasibility System (PUFFS); and was the first to carry spherical bow sonar for localization and attack, which necessitated having her torpedo tubes located amidships instead of the traditional forward position.

She was designed for anti-submarine warfare, a new mission for submarines.

Built by Electric Boat in Groton, Conn., she was delivered to the U.S. Navy in 1960.

She was not the first to carry the name. The World War II Gato-class submarine USS Tullibee (SS 284) was commissioned in 1943. The 311-foot sub displaced about 1,550 tons on the surface. She sank more than 35,000 tons of enemy shipping in one year before being sunk by one of her own torpedoes.

The nuclear Tullibee was not much bigger than her World War II namesake, displacing about 2,300 tons on the surface, and shorter at 273 feet in length. By comparison, USS Skate (SSN 578) and her three sisters were 267 feet long and 2,800 tons; while the USS Skipjack (SSN 585) and her five sisters were 20 feet shorter than Tullibee, but wider, heavier, and faster. Like the World War II fleet boats, Tullibee had a small crew. When commissioned she had seven officers and 60 enlisted men (SS 284 had six officers and 54 enlisted). Near the end of her career, her crew size was 13 officers and 100 enlisted men.

Her small size offered cramped quarters for the crew, especially for the long “stalking” missions for which she was envisioned.

Tullibee incorporated a turbo-electric drive propulsion plant. Many Navy surface ships have used this form of propulsion, including the first carrier, converted collier USS Langley, and several classes of battleships. Diesel subs traditionally used their engines to charge batteries, which could be used when submerged. TED uses steam or gas turbines to generate electricity. With TED, Tullibee’s nuclear power plant made steam that powered a generator to make electricity that drove the electric motor connected to the shaft. This eliminated large reduction gears to turn the shaft, whereas the electric motor was quieter, but required energy to be converted twice, and was thus less efficient.

If TED made Tullibee quieter, it also made her slower. Her small size offered cramped quarters for the crew, especially for the long “stalking” missions for which she was envisioned.

In 1965, she underwent an extensive refueling overhaul – spending 754 days in drydock – at the Portsmouth Naval Shipyard in Kittery, Me. Her experimental sonar was replaced with a production model. Her long shipyard stay was partly delayed because of higher-priority work on the Polaris submarine program.

She was plagued by engineering troubles, and once had one of her sonars dislodged by a merchant ship following a collision.

Although the Tullibee design was not repeated, many of her design features, such as the bow-mounted spherical sonar array, became standard.

Tullibee was a pioneer in the Navy’s efforts to make a quieter submarine. Although the Tullibee design was not repeated, many of her design features, such as the bow-mounted spherical sonar array, became standard. The USS Glenard P. Lipscomb,commissioned in 1974,also had TED design. Twice as large asTullibee, she was quieter and heavier, but, like Tullibee, also slower than other contemporary Navy attack submarines.

Tullibee was decommissioned in 1988 and towed from Portsmouth Navy Shipyard to Puget Sound Naval Shipyard in Bremerton, Wash., for inactivation and recycling.



Oct 15, 2014
United States
SSN-637 Sturgeon class

Displacement 4,250 tons standard, except SSN 678-687 4,460 tons
4,780 tons submerged, except SSN 678-687 4,960 tons
Length 292 feet
302 feet SSN 678-687
Beam 32 feet
Draft 28.8 feet
Speed Official: 20-plus knots
Actual: 25 knots
Operating Depth official: "greater than 400 feet"
Actual: 1300 feet [400 meters] test depth
Actual: 1900 feet [600 meters] collapse depth
Power Plant One S5W nuclear reactor,
two steam turbines, 15,000 shp, one shaft
Armament MK 48 Torpedoes, four torpedo tubes
UGM-84A/C Harpoon
MK 57 deep water mines
MK 60 CAPTOR mines
Radars BPS-14/15 surface search
Sonars BQQ-5 multi-function bow mounted
BQR-7 passive in submarines with BQQ-2
BQR-26 in SSN 666
BQS-6 active in submarines with BQQ-2
BQS-12 active on SSN 637-664
BQS-13 active on SSN 665-687
TB-16 or TB-23 towed array
EW Systems WLQ-4(V)
Unit Cost $320 million [1990 prices]

STURGEON class submarines were built for anti-submarine warfare in the late 1960s and 1970s. Using the same propulsion system as their smaller predecessors of the SSN-585 Skipjack and SSN-594 Permit classes, the larger Sturgeons sacrificed speed for greater combat capabilities. They are equipped to carry the HARPOON missile, the TOMAHAWK cruise missile,and the MK-48 and ADCAP torpedoes. Torpedo tubes are located amidships to accomodate the bow-mounted sonar. The sail-mounted dive planes rotate to a vertical position for breaking through the ice when surfacing in Arctic regions.

In the early 1960s the submarine community emphasized continued improvements in quieting, both array and processing gain, better sonar system integration, and formal tactical and operational analysis. Beginning with the Thresher/Permits, American SSN designs demonstrated a continuing willingness to emphasize quieting over other valuable operational capabilities such as speed and diving performance. Thus in the progression from Skipjack to Thresher to the Sturgeon class in 1967, there were significant improvements in quieting with each generation, and a loss in several knots of top speed.

USS Sturgeon (SSN 637) was originally conceived as a modest upgrade to the Permits but she grew to become a class of her own. She was larger, both because quieting and size tend to accompany each other, and because she was given more space to accommodate a more advanced acoustic and SIGINT sensor suite. With the 637s the submarine force began to embrace LOFAR (LOw Frequency Analysis and Ranging) signal processing as a tool for both detection and classification. LOFAR provided an additional, very powerful tool for increasing acoustic signal-to-noise ratios. Using LOFAR, the sonar focuses only on those low frequency tonals where the submarine's source levels are highest. The sonar can therefore detect that narrow component of the submarine's overall sound spectrum at much greater ranges before noise drowns it out.

Experimental spectrum analyzers like the BQQ-3 were replaced in the early 1970s by digital systems and were deployed on all submarines rather than only those engaged in special missions. The 637s were also the vehicle for early experiments with towed arrays. Towed arrays were line arrays of omnidirectional hydrophones much like SOSUS arrays that used electronic beamformers to achieve array gain. Long, thin, towed arrays could provide more aperture than could bow or hull-mounted arrays, and also suffered less from self noise and flow noise.

One of the first and most important uses for both LOFAR and the towed array in the submarine force was the creation and maintenance of a library of Soviet submarine signatures. Each class of submarine, and indeed each submarine, generated its own unique blend of narrow and broadband sound at varying levels. Knowledge of these signatures was fundamental to the effective use of LOFAR, and to predicting the performance of passive sonars. Even the most advanced computers of the day were limited in the number of spectral lines that they could process, meaning that prior knowledge of the frequency of those lines was necessary in order to maximize LOFAR capabilities. Likewise, predicting the performance of passive sonars demanded knowledge of the strength of the target signal. Knowledge of sonar performance was fundamental to the barrier strategy because expected detection range was the key variable in determining the number of platforms needed to man a given barrier. Submarines were uniquely able to collect and maintain this data base of opposing submarine signatures, which served both their own operations as well as the other ASW communities.

Another unique capability provided for the first time on a large scale by the 637s was an enhanced ability to covertly track an opponent. Prior SSNs could certainly track their Soviet counterparts, but the tactical challenges involved were significant. Tracking operations demanded the ability to approach the target covertly and establish and maintain a position to its rear, in its so-called "sound baffles." The situational awareness required to do this was demanding, because the distance from which the track was maintained was at relatively short, direct path ranges where counter detection was most likely. Alongside the fact that it was quiet, a 637's large, spherical, bow sonar array gave its crew a wider angle view in both azimuth and elevation of its target than did a Skipjack or a Skate. This effectively removed a set of blinders which constrained the field of regard to a narrow cone looking forward. The 637s made it feasible to develop tactics for routine, covert tracking operations that could be implemented on a force-wide basis.

USS Sturgeon (SSN-637), the lead ship of a 37-unit class, was commissioned in 1967. This class introduced General Dynamics to submarine construction. That same year New York Shipbuilding Corporation dropped out of submarine construction while building USS Pogy (SSN-647); she was towed to Ingalls Shipbuilding in Pascagoula, Mississippi to be completed. Portsmouth Naval Shipyard dropped out of the nuclear powered submarine construction business in 1971, and Mare Island Naval Shipyard dropped out of the nuclear powered submarine construction business the following year. Ingalls Shipyard dropped out of the nuclear powered submarine construction business in 1974. This action left only General Dynamics Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding as the U. S. Navy's only source of new construction nuclear powered submarines.

Beginning with SSN-678 Archerfish units of this class had a 10-foot longer hull, giving them more living and working space than previous submarines of the Sturgeon Class.

A total of six Sturgeon-class boats were modified to carry the SEAL Dry Deck Shelter [DDS], one in 1982 and five between 1988 and 1991. The are SSN 678-680, 682, 684, 686 are listed as "DDS Capable" -- either permanently fitted with the DDS or trained with them. In this configuration they are primarily tasked with the covert insertion of special forces troops from an attached Dry Deck Shelter (DDS). The Dry Deck Shelter is a submersible launch hanger with a hyperbolic chamber that attaches to the ship's Weapon Shipping Hatch. The DDS provides the most tactically practical means of SEAL delivery due to its size, capabilities, and location on the ship.

Rapidly phased out in favor of the LOS ANGELES and SEAWOLF Classes of attack submarines, this venerable and flexible workhorse of the submarine attack fleet continues to operate in the forward areas of the world to this day. Attracting little publicity during its heyday, this class of ship was the platform of choice for many of the Cold War missions for which submarines are now famous. After a 5-year study was completed on the SSN-637 class submarine, the design life was extended from 20 years to 30 years, with a possible extension to 33 years on a case-by-case basis. However, many boats of this class were retired prior to this limit in order to avoid expensive reactor refueling operations.

While almost all Cold War operations remain classified, recently declassified missions showcase Submarine Force capabilities. In 1978, in the Atlantic, USS Batfish (SSN-681) tracked a Soviet ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) sailing off the East Coast of the U.S.- learning Soviet SSBN patrol areas and operating patterns and providing early indications of any potential surprise attack on the U.S.


SSN-671 Narwhal

Specifications: Displacement, Surfaced: 5027 t., Submerged: 5,378 t.;
Length 314';

Beam 33';

Draft 31'; Speed, Surfaced 15 kts, Submerged 20+ kts;

Test depth limit 1,300';

Complement 141;

Armament, four 21" torpedo tubes amidships aft of bow, MK 48 Torpedoes, UUM-44A SUBROC, UGM-84A/C Harpoon, MK 57 deep water mines, Tomahawk missiles, MK 60 CAPTOR mines;

Combat Sensors, Radar, BPS-14/15 surface search, Sonars, BQQ-5 multi-function bow mounted, BQR-7 passive in submarines with BQQ-2, BQS-12 active 7, TB-16 or TB-23 towed array, EW Systems, WLQ-4(V), WLR-4(V), WLR-9 ;

Propulsion System, one S5G nuclear reactor, single, enormous, directly-coupled main turbine & one-of-a-kind direct-drive, one propeller, 17,000 shp.

The USS NARWHAL (SSN-671) was the quietest of submarines at the time of her commissioning, the result of a Natural Circulation Reactor (NCR). When commissioned on 12 July 1969, the NARWHAL was the largest "straight" nuclear-powered attack submarine yet built by the US Navy. The new type of reactor enabled her to steam longer, and further than any other submarine then in existence. She was later modified for special missions, and fitted to operate a Remotely Operated Vehicle. She was decommissioned in 1999. USS NARWHAL (SSN-671) was designed and built by the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics Corporation, Groton, Connecticut. The ship was initially assigned to Submarine Development Group TWO at New London, Connecticut.

Literally in a class by herself, USS NARWHAL (SSN-671) was the quietest of submarines at the time of her commissioning. Her quiet performance, was the result of an engineering plant powered by a novel natural circulation reactor, which set the standards of quietness to which U.S. submarine designers work to this day. The design and engineering that went into creating a quiet engineering plant had the fortuitous effect of developing marvelously accessible and maintainable systems and equipment. The USS Narwhal (SSN 671) was built as the prototype platform for an ultra-quiet natural circulation reactor design. This allowed for operation with the large water circulating pumps, a major source of radiated noise, secured. The transitional hull design had elements carried over from the STURGEON class, while prototyping some features of the LOS ANGELES class hull design. She was similar to the Sturgeon design in other respects. Her Sturgeon-class state-of-the-art combat suit was the best in the world as she entered the fleet.

NARWHAL's propulsion plant prompted a belief among some submariners, including a number of engineering duty officers, that the plant should be adapted and adopted to be the heart of a major attack class to follow the Sturgeons. The urgent need to regain the speed lead being wrested by the Soviets, however, combined with ever-present budget considerations to focus SSN construction on a surer bet: the Los Angeles-class. NARWHAL used new engineering technology and several other innovations that led to advances in the submarine development program, laying important groundwork for the LOS ANGELES and OHIO class submarines which followed her. NARWHAL remained unique - she was truly a one ship class.

According to some reports Narwhal was employed for intelligence collection, and was fitted with a structure, called a "turtleback" -- just forward of her rudder that some have suggested may possibly be for remote-controlled underwater vehicles. However, a more prosaic explanation suggest that the big bulge on her stern is a casing for TB-23 towed array fitted with the new BQQ-5D sonar.

During her career, Narwhal was highly decorated, receiving the Navy Unit Commendation, three Meritorious Unit Commendations and five Battle Efficiency "E" awards. She has conducted 17 deployments to all corners of the world. Most recently, during her 1998 deployment to the Mediterranean, Narwhal was underway 86 percent of the time, conducting numerous international exercises and two extended operations of vital importance to national security.

After commissioning, NARWHAL was assigned to Submarine Detachment TWO in New London CT. She made her first deployment in the summer of 1970 and was eventually assigned to Submarine Squadron TWO in New London. In November 1979, NARWHAL was reassigned to Submarine Squadron FOUR in Charleston SC which was her home until she was transferred to Submarine Squadron SIX in Hampton Roads during October 1994.

USS Narwhal was inactivated on 16 January 1999 at Naval Station Norfolk, and She will began the decommissioning process at Newport News Shipbuilding later in the month. Newport News Shipbuilding is the only private source with the knowledge, experience, and facilities required to prepare for and accomplish the defueling and inactivation of SSN 671.


LA Class Submarine

General characteristics
Displacement: Surfaced: 6,082 tonnes (5,986 long tons) Submerged: 6,927 tonnes (6,818 long tons)
Length: 362 ft (110 m)
Beam: 33 ft (10 m)
Draft: 31 ft (9.4 m)
Propulsion: 1 GE PWR S6G nuclear reactor, 2 turbines 35,000 hp (26 MW), 1 auxiliary motor 325 hp (242 kW), 1 shaft
Speed: Surfaced: 20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h)
Submerged: +20 knots (23 mph; 37 km/h) (official),33+ knots (reported)
Range: Refueling required after 30 years
Endurance: 90 days
Test depth: 950 ft (290 m)
Complement: 129
Sensors and
processing systems: BQQ-5 Suite which includes Active and Passive systems sonar, BQS-15 detecting and ranging sonar, WLR-8V(2) ESM receiver, WLR-9 acoustic receiver for detection of active search sonar and acoustic homing torpedoes, BRD-7 radio direction finder, BPS-15 radar
Electronic warfare
& decoys: WLR-10 countermeasures set
Armament: 4× 21 in (533 mm) torpedo tubes, 37xMk 48 torpedo, Tomahawk land attack missile, Harpoon anti–ship missile, Mk 67 mobile, or Mk 60 Captor mines (688i FLTII and FLTIII have a 12-tube VLS)

The United States Navy has 51 nuclear powered Los Angeles Class submarines, 16 in the Pacific Fleet and 32 in the Atlantic Fleet. The first was commissioned in 1976 and the latest of the class, the USS Cheyenne, was commissioned in 1996. The ships have been built by Northrop Grumman Ship Systems (formerly Newport News Shipbuilding) and General Dynamics Electric Boat Division.
Nine of the Los Angeles class submarines were deployed in the Gulf War in 1991, during which Tomahawk missiles were launched from two of the submarines. 12 Los Angeles submarines were deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in March/April 2003. All 12 launched Tomahawk TLAM missiles.
The Los Angeles class submarine is an attack submarine equipped for anti-submarine warfare, intelligence gathering, show-of-force missions, insertion of special forces, strike missions, mining and search and rescue.
Los Angeles Class submarine missile capability.

Los Angeles Class submarines built since 1982 are equipped with a vertical launch missile system with twelve launch tubes. The submarine is fitted with a Raytheon CCS Mark 2 combat data system. This was replaced with a further development, the Raytheon AN/BYG-1 Combat Control System, also fitted on USN Virginia and Seawolf classes and Australian Collins Class submarines. The first system was fitted on SSN68 Los Angeles in 2005.
The submarine is armed with both the land-attack and anti-ship version of the Tomahawk missile from Raytheon. The land-attack Tomahawk has a range of 2,500km. A TAINS (Tercom Aided Inertial Navigation System) guides the missile towards the target flying at subsonic speed at an altitude of 20m to 100m. Block III improvements include an improved propulsion system and Navstar Global Positioning System (GPS) guidance capability. Tomahawk can be fitted with a nuclear warhead which is not normally carried on the Los Angeles class. The anti-ship Tomahawk missile is equipped with an inertial guidance and an active radar and anti-radiation homing head. The range is up to 450km.
First underwater launch of the new Raytheon Tactical Tomahawk Block IV missile with a live warhead took place from USS Tucson (SSN 770) in July 2003. Block IV includes a two-way satellite link that allows reprogramming of the missile in flight and transmission of Battle Damage Indication (BDI) imagery. The missile entered service with USN surface ships in September 2004.
The Los Angeles class also carry the Harpoon anti-ship missile from Boeing. Sub-Harpoon uses active radar homing to deliver a 225kg warhead. The range is 130km and the speed is high subsonic.
Los Angeles class torpedoes

The submarine is fitted with four 533mm torpedo tubes located midships together with a Mark 117 torpedo fire control system. The submarine has the capacity for 26 torpedo tube launched weapons including Tomahawk missiles, Harpoon missiles and Mark 48 ADCAP torpedoes. The Gould Mark 48 torpedoes combat both high-performance surface ships and fast deep-diving submarines. The torpedo is capable of operating with or without wire guidance and uses either or both active and passive homing. It is equipped with multiple re-attack modes which operate if the target ship is missed. The torpedo carries out programmed target search, acquisition and attack procedures.
The submarine can also lay Mobile Mark 67 and Captor Mark 60 mines.
Countermeasure systems

The electronic support measures (ESM) includes a BRD-7 direction finding system, the WLR-1H and WLR-8(v)2 interceptors and the WLR-10 radar warner.
The AN/ WLY-1 acoustic interception and countermeasures system from Northrop Grumman is to replacement for the existing WLR-9A/12 acoustic intercept system. The submarine is equipped with a Mark 2 torpedo decoy.
Sensor suite

The Los Angeles class submarines are equipped with a comprehensive suite of sonars: TB-23/29 thin line passive towed array (to be replaced by the Lockheed Martin TB-29A under development), BQG 5D wide aperture flank array, BQQ 5D/E low frequency passive and active search and attack sonar, Ametek BQS 15 close range high frequency active sonar also used for ice detection, MIDAS (Mine and Ice Detection Avoidance) System high frequency active sonar and Raytheon SADS-TG active detection sonar. A Near-term Mine Reconnaissance System, NMRS, is being installed. The NMRS is a fibre-optic controlled vehicle which is equipped with AQS 14 side-scan sonar. The launch and recovery of the reconnaissance vehicle is via a torpedo tube.
The submarines are being upgraded with the Lockheed Martin AN/BQQ-10(V4) sonar processing system, under the Acoustic-Rapid Commercial-Off-The-Shelf Insertion (A-RCI) program.
The surface search, navigation and fire control radar is the Sperry Marine BPS 15 A/16. The system incorporates a video processor, touchscreen radar controls and an hydraulically driven raise and rotate mechanism.
Propulsion systems

The ship is equipped with a 26MW nuclear pressure water reactor, model GE PWR S6G, developed and supplied by General Electric. The auxiliary prop motor by Magnatek supplies 242kW. The life of the fuel cells is approximately ten years.


Seawolf Class


General characteristics
Displacement: Surfaced: 8,600 tons Submerged:9,138 tons, 12,139 tons full, USS Jimmy Carter
Length: 353 ft (108 m)
Beam: 40 ft (12 m)
Propulsion: 1 S6W PWR 45,000 hp (34,000 kW)
1 secondary propulsion submerged motor
1 shaft
1 propeller
Speed: 30–35 knots (56–65 km/h) or over
Range: unlimited
Endurance: Only limited by food supplies
Complement: 140
Crew: 14 officers; 126 enlisted
Armament: 8 × 660 mm torpedo tubes (50Tomahawk (missile)/Harpoon (missile)/Mark 48 torpedo)

The Seawolf was conceived as a faster, better-armed eventual replacement for the Los Angeles Class nuclear-powered attack submarines.

The first of class, the Seawolf (SSN21), was ordered from the Electric Boat Division of General Dynamics, Connecticut, in January 1989 and commissioned in July 1997. Connecticut (SSN22) was commissioned in December 1998. The third, Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), is to be modified to improve payload carrying and underwater manoeuvrability.

The alterations to the design will include modifications to the ballast control, mission management spaces and the creation of a flexible ocean interface known as a 'wasp waist', which will enable the deployment and recovery of payloads without the use of torpedo tubes. Other additions include a new high-capacity communications mast and ROV handling system. The Jimmy Carter was launched in June 2004 and commissioned in February 2005.

The Seawolf was a product of the Cold War, conceived to maintain the USA's acoustic advantage over Soviet submarines. With the end of the Cold War and the change of emphasis to littoral operations, the cost of the Seawolf submarines was judged prohibitive and the programme was curtailed in favour of the smaller and cheaper Virginia Class New Attack submarines.

Seawolf design

The Seawolf's modular design introduces important improvements and innovations. It has greater manoeuvrability than the Los Angeles Class, space for later upgrades and weapons developments, and better sonars.

The Seawolf has a submerged displacement of 9,137t dived (12,139t for the Jimmy Carter), and 8,060t surfaced. Full acoustic cladding has been installed. It has a maximum speed of 35kt dived, and a 'silent' speed of 20kt. It has a crew of 116 personnel, including 15 officers. With a diving depth of 610m, it has been designed with a sub-ice capability, with retractable bow planes.

Combat system

The combat data system is a Lockheed Martin BSY-2 with a network of some 70 or so 68030 Motorola processors. This being replaced by the Raytheon AN/BYG-1 combat system. Weapons control is managed by the Raytheon mk2 fire control system.


Like the improved Los Angeles Class, the Seawolf does not have any external weapons. The submarine is armed with both the land-attack and anti-ship version of the Tomahawk missile from Raytheon. The land-attack Tomahawk has a range of 2,500km. A TAINS (Tercom aided inertial navigation system) guides the missile towards the target flying at subsonic speed at an altitude of 20m to 100m.

Tomahawk can be fitted with a nuclear warhead,a;though it is not normally carried. Block III improvements include an improved propulsion system and Navstar global positioning system (GPS) guidance capability. The anti-ship Tomahawk missile is equipped with an inertial guidance and an active radar and anti-radiation homing head. The range is up to 450km.

The first underwater launch of the new Raytheon Tactical Tomahawk block IV missile took place in November 2002. Block IV includes a two-way satellite link that allows reprogramming of the missile in flight and transmission of battle damage indication (BDI) imagery. The missile entered service with USN surface ships in September 2004.

The Seawolf Class also carries the Harpoon anti-ship missile from Boeing. Sub-harpoon uses active radar homing to deliver a 225kg warhead. The range is 130km and the speed is high subsonic.


Seawolf has eight 660mm torpedo tubes for launching torpedoes and missiles. 50 missiles / torpedoes are carried. The Gould mk48 ADCAP torpedoes combat both high-performance surface ships and fast deep-diving submarines. The torpedo has a 267kg warhead. It is capable of operating with or without wire guidance and uses either or both active and passive homing. Range is 50km (active) and 38km (passive)


Countermeasures include the Northrop Grumman WLY-1 torpedo decoy system and a GTE WLQ-4(V)1 electronic countermeasures (ECM) system.


The submarine's sonar suite is the BQQ 5D with bow-mounted active / passive arrays and wide aperture passive flank arrays.

Also fitted are TB-16 surveillance and TB-29 tactical towed arrays, which will be replaced by the TB-29A thin-line towed array being developed by Lockheed Martin, and BQS 24 active sonar for close range detection.

The Seawolf submarines are being upgraded with the Lockheed Martin AN/BQQ-10(V4) sonar processing system under the acoustic-rapid commercial-off-the-shelf insertion (A-RCI) programme.

BPS 16 radar, operating at I band, is fitted for navigation.


The nuclear-powered Seawolf has a GE PWR S6W reactor system, two turbines rated 52,000hp (38.8MW), a pumpjet propulsor, a single shaft, and one secondary propulsion submerged motor.

This boat, USS Jimmy Carter is 100 feet longer than the other two Seawolf Class Submarines



Virginia Class

General characteristics
Type: Attack submarine
Displacement: 7,900 metric tons (7,800 long tons)
Length: 377 ft (115 m)
Beam: 34 ft (10 m)
Propulsion: S9G reactor 40,000 shp (30,000 kW)
Speed: 30–35 knots (56–65 km/h) or over
Range: unlimited
Endurance: Only limited by food and maintenance requirements.
Test depth: +800 ft (240 m)
Complement: 135 (15:120)
Armament: 12 × VLS (BGM-109 Tomahawk (missile)) tubes
4 × 533 mm torpedo tubes (Mk-48 torpedo)
27 × torpedoes & missiles (torpedo room)

Attack submarines are designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; project power ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Special Operation Forces (SOF); carry out Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions; support battle group operations; and engage in mine warfare.

With the number of foreign diesel-electric/air-independent propulsion submarines increasing yearly, the United States Submarine Force relies on its technological superiority and the speed, endurance, mobility, stealth and payload afforded by nuclear power to retain its preeminence in the undersea battlespace.

The Navy has three classes of SSNs in service. Los Angeles (SSN 688)-class submarines are the backbone of the submarine force with 41 now in commission. Thirty Los Angeles-class SSNs are equipped with 12 Vertical Launch System tubes for firing Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The Navy also has three Seawolf-class submarines. Commissioned on July 19, 1997, USS Seawolf (SSN 21) is exceptionally quiet, fast, well-armed, and equipped with advanced sensors. Though lacking Vertical Launch Systems, the Seawolf class has eight torpedo tubes and can hold up to 50 weapons in its torpedo room. The third ship of the class, USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23), has a 100-foot hull extension called the multi-mission platform. This hull section provides for additional payloads to accommodate advanced technology used to carry out classified research and development and for enhanced warfighting capabilities.

The Navy is now building the next-generation attack submarine, the Virginia (SSN 774) class. The Virginia class has several innovations that significantly enhance its warfighting capabilities with an emphasis on littoral operations. Virginia class SSNs have a fly-by-wire ship control system that provides improved shallow-water ship handling. The class has special features to support SOF, including a reconfigurable torpedo room which can accommodate a large number of SOF and all their equipment for prolonged deployments and future off-board payloads. The class also has a large lock-in/lock-out chamber for divers. In Virginia-class SSNs, traditional periscopes have been supplanted by two photonics masts that host visible and infrared digital cameras atop telescoping arms. With the removal of the barrel periscopes, the ship's control room has been moved down one deck and away from the hull's curvature, affording it more room and an improved layout that provides the commanding officer with enhanced situational awareness. Additionally, through the extensive use of modular construction, open architecture, and commercial off-the-shelf components, the Virginia class is designed to remain state-of-the-practice for its entire operational life through the rapid introduction of new systems and payloads.

As part of the Virginia-class' third, or Block III, contract, the Navy redesigned approximately 20 percent of the ship to reduce their acquisition costs. Most of the changes are found in the bow where the traditional, air-backed sonar sphere has been replaced with a water-backed Large Aperture Bow (LAB) array which reduces acquisition and life-cycle costs while providing enhanced passive detection capabilities. The new bow also replaces the 12 individual Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes with two 87-inch Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles. The VPTs simplify construction, reduce acquisition costs, and provide for more payload flexibility than the smaller VLS tubes due to their added volume.

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Jan 20, 2015
So basically US used inferior 2000-5000 t submarines than India's Arihant in its first attempt ?
:p: Joking . Different times different days . Thanks for the info . Submarines with 50 missiles and torpedoes are the beasts of High Sea . :usflag:


May 28, 2011
United States
United States
So basically US used inferior 2000-5000 t submarines than India's Arihant in its first attempt ?
:p: Joking . Different times different days . Thanks for the info . Submarines with 50 missiles and torpedoes are the beasts of High Sea . :usflag:
Can you imagine if they used the Seawolf design with the Virginia? 50 weapons in the torpedo room along with 40 cruise missiles or drones in the VLS. Thats pretty much 90 weapons total.


Jan 20, 2015
Can you imagine if they used the Seawolf design with the Virginia? 50 weapons in the torpedo room along with 40 cruise missiles or drones in the VLS. Thats pretty much 90 weapons total.
Will be great. At least our SSN will have more than 30-40 missiles and torpedoes . May be more . Small submarines used by IRAN will also be looked into . INS Chakra carries 40 missiles and torpedoes decoys etc. Our SSN may have virtually tubes in the centre to accommodate Brahmos and it's future bramos M variants . Now plans are good Now need to fast track these deals .

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