Before the end of the Cold War came in 1991, the United States Navy moved forward with a plan to produce a whole new class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines known as the "Seawolf-class". This group would number 29 boats and form a vital component of America's underwater strength against the might of the Soviet Union going forward. However, the end of the Cold War, thawing relations between the United States and Russia, and the per-unit cost for each Seawolf-class boat meant that, in the end, only three of the intended twenty-nine boats were ever built. These became USS Seawolf (SSN-21), USS Connecticut (SSN-22) and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23).
USS Connecticut was ordered on May 3rd, 1991 and began construction on September 14th, 1992 by General Dynamics Electric Boat. She was launched on September 1st, 1997 and formally commissioned on December 11th, 1998. Her home port is currently (2015) Kitsap Naval Base of Bremerton, Washington along the American West Coast while she fights under the fitting motto of "Arsenal of the Nation".
USS Connecticut takes on a conventional design profile featuring a well-rounded nose section, rounded hull form, and cruciform-style rudder arrangement. A shrouded, multi-blade propulsion unit extends beyond the rudder arrangement. The sail is fitted well-forward of midships in the Seawolf-class design and features a notable sloped section just ahead. Dive planes, as well as the various communications gear and sensors, are also fitted to the tower structure. Dimensions of the boat include a length of 353 feet and beam of 40 feet. Her standard operating crew numbers 14 officers and 126 enlisted personnel.
Power is through a Westinghouse S6W (S = Submarine, 6 = Sixth Generation core, W = Westinghouse) pressurized water nuclear reactor generating 45,000 horsepower to the single shaft. The vessel can make headway at up to 35 knots submerged and, because of her nuclear propulsion fit, she holds an essentially unlimited operational range - her reach restricted only by the onboard supplies available to the crew.
Primary armament is 8 x 26" (660mm) tubes that can be used in launching torpedoes or missiles (Harpoon anti-ship missiles or Tomahawk cruise missiles respectively). In this way, the vessel can engage both underwater/on-water threats as well as land-based threats as required. She can also be used to dispense up to 100 naval mines.
Connecticut underwent her shakedown cruise in late 1999 to which all of her prominent systems were tested. Her early career was generally made up of standard patrols and exercises before the events of 9/11 pushed the United States to war against Islamic extremists. Her service in the "War on Terrorism" began in late March of 2004 and she returned stateside in September of that year to undergo scheduled maintenance which took some three years to complete. Connecticut was then officially assigned to Naval Base Kitsap in the early part of 2007 to help bolster the American submarine force in the Pacific - following her sisters in this move. Her next outing began in July and her arrival at Kitsap was realized in January of 2008. Some of her last actions of note were in "ICEX 2011" - naval exercises centering on training in an arctic environment. Beyond this, the boat maintains an active presence in the United States Navy today (2015) and should remain a participant for the next few decades.
To make up the numbers lost with the cancellation of additional Seawolf-class boats, the more compact, less-expensive Virginia-class boats were adopted. These began service in 2004 and currently (2015) number thirteen units.