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USS Seawolf (SSN-21) Attack Submarine (1997)

Authored By Staff Writer | Last Updated: 11/5/2010

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)
Attack Submarine


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


Crew: 140


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


Machinery: 1 x S6W PWR nuclear reactor with 1 x shaft at 45,000shp; 1 x propulsion submerged motor and 1 x pumpjet propulsor.

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


Armament:
8 x 762mm torpedo tubes (50 reloads) OR 100 x Mines (in place of torpedoes) OR 50 x BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles OR 50 x AGM-84 Harpoon anti-ship missiles


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