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US Navy Seawolf Class Attack Submarines (SSN)

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    The Seawolf class is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines (SSN) in service with the United States Navy. The class was the intended successor to the Los Angeles class, ordered at the end of the Cold War in 1989. At one time, an intended fleet of 29 submarines was to be built over a ten-year period, later reduced to twelve submarines. The end of the Cold War and budget constraints led to the cancellation in 1995 of any further additions to the fleet, leaving the Seawolf class limited to just three boats. This, in turn, led to the design of the smaller Virginia class.

Class Specifications:

  • Overall Length: 353' - 0"
  • Waterline Length: 353' - 0"
  • Extreme Beam: 40' - 0"
  • Waterline Beam: 40' - 0"
  • Max. Navigational Draft: 36' - 0"
  • Light Displacement: 7,568 tons
  • Full Displacement: 9,137 tons
  • Structural Composition: Steel
  • Number of Propellers: 1
  • Propulsion Type: 1 General Electric S6W Reactor powering, 2 Steam Turbines
  • Total Shaft Horsepower: 52,000 shp
  • Speed: 30+ knots submerged
  • Crew (typ.) Officers: 15; Enlisted: 101


    Compared to previous Los Angeles class submarines, Seawolf subs are larger, faster, and significantly quieter; they also carry more weapons and have twice as many torpedo tubes, for a total of 8. As a result of their advanced design, however, Seawolf subs were much more expensive. They were intended to combat the then-threat of large numbers of advanced Soviet ballistic missile submarines such as the Typhoon class and attack submarines such as the Akula class in a deep ocean environment. Seawolf hulls were constructed from HY-100 steel, rather than the weaker HY-80 steel employed in previous classes, to better withstand water pressure at greater depths. The boats also have extensive equipment for shallow-water operations. The boats carry up to 50 UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles for attacking land and sea surface targets. The projected cost for twelve submarines of this class was $33.6 billion, but after the Cold War, construction was stopped at three boats. The class uses the more advanced ARCI Modified AN/BSY-2 combat system, which includes a new, larger spherical sonar array, a wide aperture array (WAA), and a new towed-array sonar. Each boat is powered by a single S6W nuclear reactor, delivering 52,000 hp (39 MW) to a low-noise pump-jet.


    The USS Jimmy Carter is roughly 100 feet (30 m) longer than the other two boats of her class due to the insertion of a section known as the Multi-Mission Platform (MMP), which allows launch and recovery of ROVs and Navy SEAL forces. The MMP may also be used as an underwater splicing chamber for tapping of undersea fiber optic cables. This role was formerly filled by the decommissioned USS Parche (SSN-683). The Jimmy Carter was modified for this role by Electric Boat at the cost of $887 million. Jimmy Carter is currently homeported at Naval Base Kitsap. In 2006, the Navy announced that it would homeport all three of its Seawolf submarines in Bangor.