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USS Seawolf (SSN-21) Fast Attack Nuclear-Powered Submarine (1997)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 6/3/2015

The USS Seawolf was the first in her class, a class which initially was to field some 29 ships but ended with just three produced.

The USS Seawolf was designed and developed during the Cold War though by the time she was made available, the Cold War was all but over. Some 29 vessels of her Seawolf-class were originally ordered though the collapse of the Soviet Union curtailed this total substantially to just the three ships in service - the USS Seawolf (SSN 21), USS Connecticut (SS 22)and the USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23). The USS Seawolf is the lead ship of the Seawolf-class of submarines. The vessel is classified as an attack submarine and was suppose to replace the Los Angeles-class in number and was specifically added to the naval fleet to combat the Soviet Akula-class types.

As with any submarine since the First World War, the USS Seawolf if an offensive weapon with armament centering around her arsenal of torpedoes (hence the attack submarine designation). She operates with 8 x 762mm torpedo tubes with some 50 reload torpedoes though this munitions load can be replaced by 100 anti-ship mines if need be. Additionally, the Seawolf can take on up to 50 x Tomahawk surface-to-surface cruise missiles or 50 x AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

The USS Seawolf design is contemporary with her conning tower held forward. She has a single propeller shaft at rear and power is derived from the single S6W PWR nuclear reactor with an output of 45,000 shaft horsepower. A crew of up to 140 personnel operate her various systems and she can achieve a top surface speed of 18 knots. More importantly, the vessel is known for her submerged top speed of 35 knots - allowing USS Seawolf a tactical advantage when running as silent as she does (moreso even than the Los Angeles-class reportedly).

The USS Seawolf was originally ordered in 1989 and laid down that year. The vessel was launched in 1995 and officially commissioned in 1997. She makes her homeport out of Naval Base Kitsap in Bangor, Washington and serves under the motto of "Beware the Wolf". As of this writing, the submarine is in active service and has been on three major deployments since her commissioning. With only three Seawolf submarines available, the smaller Virginia-class has been acquired to help fill the strength-in-numbers void left by the limited Seawolf-class production following the end of the Cold War.

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Specifications for the
USS Seawolf (SSN-21)
Fast Attack Nuclear-Powered Submarine

Country of Origin: United States
Initial Year of Service: 1997
Operators: United States

Crew: 116

Length: 353 ft (107.59 m)
Beam: 40 ft (12.19 m)
Draught: 36 ft (10.97 m)
Displacement: 8,600 tons
Displacement (Submerged): 9,140 tons

Machinery: 1 x S6W PWR nuclear reactor developing 45,000 horsepower to 1 x Shaft; 1 x Propulsion submerged motor; 1 x Pumpjet propulsor.

Surface Speed: 18 kts (21 mph)
Submerged Speed: 35 kts (40 mph)
Range: Essentially Unlimited

8 x 26" (762mm) torpedo tubes (40 x torpedo reloads OR missiles OR 100 x naval mines).

Ship Class: Seawolf-class
Number-in-Class: 3
Ships-in-Class: USS Seawolf (SSN 21); USS Connecticut (SSN 22); USS Jimmy Carter (SSN 23)