Seawolf-class submarines were designed to operate autonomously against the world's most capable submarine and surface threats. The primary mission of the Seawolf was to destroy Soviet ballistic missile submarines before they could attack American targets. The Soviet submarines were one of the most survivable elements of their intercontinental ballistic missile arsenal. In addition to their capabilities in countering enemy submarines and surface shipping, Seawolf submarines are suited for battle space-preparation roles. Incorporation of sophisticated electronics produces enhanced indications and warning, surveillance, and communications capabilities. These platforms are capable of integrating into a battle group's infrastructure, or shifting rapidly into a land-battle support role.
The Seawolf features a strengthened sail, designed to permit operations under the polar ice cap for taking the fight to the Soviets in their own front yard. It sports an eight-tube, double-deck torpedo room to simultaneously engage multiple threats. It incorporates the latest in quieting technology to keep pace with the threat then posed by an aggressive Soviet Union.
The Seawolf has the highest tactical speed of any US submarine. Much of the design effort was focused on noise reduction, and it is expected that the fully coated boat will restore the level of acoustic advantage, which the US Navy enjoyed for the last three decades. The Seawolf's propulsion system makes it ten times quieter over its full range of operating speeds than the Improved-688 class and 70 times more quiet than the initial generation of Los Angeles 688-class submarines. The Seawolf's quieter propulsion system has also enable it to have twice the tactical speed as the I-688. (Tactical speed is the speed at which a submarine is still quiet enough to remain undetected while tracking enemy submarines effectively). Overall, the Seawolf's propulsion system represents a 75-percent improvement over the I-688's. The Seawolf can operate 75 percent faster before being detected. It is said that SEAWOLF is quieter at its tactical speed of 25 knots than a LOS ANGELES class submarine at pier-side.
With twice as many torpedo tubes and a 30% increase in weapons magazine size over the Los Angeles (SSN 688) class submarines, Seawolf is capable of establishing and maintaining battle-space dominance. Seawolf's inherent stealth enables surreptitious insertion of combat swimmers into denied areas. SSN 23 will incorporate special-operations force capabilities, including a dry deck shelter (DDS) and a new, specially designed combat swimmer silo. The DDS is an air-transportable device that piggy-backs on the submarine and can be used to store and launch a swimmer delivery vehicle and combat swimmers. The silo is an internal lockout chamber that will deploy up to eight combat swimmers and their equipment at one time.
Construction of the submarine has relied on a new welding material to join the steel into plates, hull subsections and large cylindrical sections. The Seawolf is the first American attack submarine to use a hull made entirely of high-pressure HY-100 steel -- previous submarines used HY80 steel. HY-100 steel was first used in submarines in the early 1960s in the Navy's deep-diving SEA CLIFF and TURTLE, which were capable of reaching depths in excess of 10,000 feet.
The SEAWOLF program began in the mid-1980s to ensure U.S. submarine superiority over Soviet counterparts well into the next century. The first U.S. attack submarine in decades designed from the keel up to accommodate the latest weapons, sensors, propulsion, and communication advancements, SEAWOLF exceeded expectations during lead ship sea trials in the summer of 1996. The test program included first underwater submergence, acoustics trials, engineering inspections and at-sea training for the crew. Seawolf (SSN 21) was commissioned on 19 July 1997 at Electric Boat Shipyard.
Seawolf was projected to be the most expensive ever built, with a total program cost for 12 submarines estimated in 1991 at $33.6 billion in current dollars. As many as 29 submarines were planned. The Fiscal Year 1998 $153.4 million budget request was the final increment of funding required for the third SEAWOLF to complete the program.
On 10 December 1999 Electric Boat was awarded an $887,113,628 modification to previously awarded contract N00024-96-C-2108 for new efforts on USS JIMMY CARTER (SSN 23) to accommodate advanced technology for naval special warfare, tactical surveillance, and mine warfare operations.
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).
General Dynamics, Electric Boat DivisionPower Plant:
One S6W PWR reactor at 45,000 hpLength:
One shaft at 52,000 shp with pumpjet propulsor
Improved Performance Machinery Program Phase II
One secondary propulsion submerged motor
353 feet (107.6 meters)Draft:
35 feet (10.67 meters)Beam:
40 feet (12.2 meters)Displacement:
7,460 ton surface displacementSpeed:
9,137 tons submerged displacement
Official: 25+ knots (28+ miles per hour, 46.3+ kph)Operating Depth:
Actual: 35 knots maximum submerged speed
Actual: 20 knots tactical ["silent"] speed
Official: "greater than 800 feet",Armament:
Actual: About 1600 feet,
Jane's Fighting Ships: 2000 feet
Eight 660-mm torpedo tubes,Crew:
50 Tomahawk cruise missiles or,
50 Harpoon antiship missiles or,
50 Mark 48 ADCP torpedoes or, up to 100 mines
12 Officers,Combat Sytems:
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.