The nuclear-powered USS Los Angeles (SSN-668) attack submarine represented the lead ship of the largest group of vessels constructed for the United States Navy during the Cold War, totaling 62 boats in the Los Angeles-class. The class was purposefully designed for anti-submarine operations centered on countering Soviet boats that - in the event of all out war - would more than likely be targeting important US naval carrier battle groups. Built and launched between 1976 and 1996, the class continues to serve in force as of 2013 and was led by its first in class - the USS Los Angeles (SSN-688).
At its core, the USS Los Angeles was categorized as an "attack submarine" and, as such, the vessel was appropriately armed with several primary weapon types to accomplish her offensive-minded task. This included four 21" bow-mounted torpedo tubes supporting the Gould Mark 48 torpedo series. Tomahawk cruise missile and Harpoon anti-ship missile capability was also a part of the Los Angeles' forte as were a host of onboard defensive suites - Mk 60 captor naval mines, Mk 67 Mobile naval mines and the Emerson Electric Mk 2 torpedo decoy system among others. Electronics of the SSN-688 consisted of a BPS-15 surface search radar and several types of passive/active search and attack low-frequency sonar systems. Additionally, the class could also call upon a sonar array, the MIDAS suite and a TB-18 passive towed-sonar array.
The USS Los Angeles was powered by a single S6G pressurized, water-cooled nuclear reactor (based on the D2G) which, in turn, drove 2 x turbines developing 35,000 horsepower to a single shaft at the stern. An auxiliary motor provided an additional, on-call 325 horsepower output. Maximum submerged speed (though still classified) was estimated to be approximately 30 knots with a surface speed nearing 25 knots. Range was essentially unlimited due to the nuclear-nature of the drive system.
As designed, the Los Angeles took on a conventional modern submarine appearance with a well-contoured, tubular hull tapered at both ends for hydrodynamic efficiency. The sail was set ahead of midships and contained the requisite optics, sensor and communications masts. At the stern as a dorsal and ventral rudder assembly with outboard stabilizers added. The multi-blade propeller was the extreme aft of the vessel. The boat displaces at 5,700 tons on light load and 6,070 tons when full. Dimensions included a running length of 362 feet, a beam of 32 feet, 10 inches feet and a draught of 30 feet, 10 inches. The Los Angeles was officially tested to depths of 950 feet. Its crew complement was typically 134 personnel made up of 13 officers and 121 enlisted.
The USS Los Angeles was first laid down in 1972 by Newport News Shipbuilding, launched in 1974 and officially commissioned in 1976 after the west coast city of Los Angeles. She made her homeport at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii during her tenure. As the Los Angeles-class holds a pedigree dating back to the Cold War 1970s, many of her class have already been retired as of this writing (2013). It is noteworthy that the Los Angeles-class as a whole became the second most expensive submarine class in USN service after the Seawolf-class. Due to the changes offered to later models of the Los Angeles class, original batch boats are designated "688" while "VLS" represents USS Providence through USS Newport News and "688I" covered USS San Juan through USS Cheyenne.
The USS Los Angeles was removed from USN service on February 1st, 2010 and officially decommissioned on February 4th, 2011. Her name was struck from the Naval Register a few days prior on February 2nd, 2011.