In the 1980s, the United States Navy (USN) committed to a new class of nuclear attack submarine to become the Seawolf-class and succeed the preceding Los Angeles-class boats. The Seawolf-class was developed as a counter to Soviet boats of similar capabilities and role. As originally intended, the Seawolf-class was to number twenty-nine total boats but the end of the Cold War in 1991 (and subsequent collapse of the Soviet Union) and per-unit cost of these advanced submarines limited the group to just three - USS Seawolf (SSN-21), USS Connecticut (SSN-22) and USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23).
Named after former US President Jimmy Carter, SSN-23 became the only submarine to carry the name of a former living president. The boat was ordered on June 29th, 1996 and saw her keel laid down on December 5th, 1998 with General Dynamics Electric Boat handling her construction. She was launched on May 13th, 2004 and commissioned for service on February 19th, 2005.
Fighting under the motto Semper Optima ("Always the Best"), USS jimmy Carter remains in active service as of this writing (2017).
USS Jimmy Carter was modified to become some 100 feet longer than her two sisters and this added space allows the boat to participate in special forces missions, supporting elements of the Navy SEALs and related deep water craft during clandestine missions (there is also a UAV support capability built-in and her base crew is larger). This change differentiates USS Jimmy Carter from her sisters and makes her something of a single-boat subgroup as a result.
The boat displaces 12,140 tons under full load and sports an overall length of 453 feet, a beam measuring 40 feet and a depth of 36 feet. Power is served from a single S6W series reactor which provides up to 45,000 horsepower to drive a single shaft astern. Underwater speed in ideal conditions is over 25 knots and, due to her nuclear powerplant, the boat has an essentially unlimited ocean-going range.
Armament is 8 x 26" torpedo tubes (all bow-facing) and these support the Mk 48 torpedo missile family as well as the Tomahawk cruise missile, the Harpoon anti-ship missile and dispensing of naval mines.
Trials of the boat occurred in 2004 and, following her commissioning, she was relocated to Bangor from New London in November 2005. In January 2008, the vessel was awarded the Battle Efficiency Award ("Battle E"). In November of 2010, she was used to observe North Korean positions following the North Korean Army's bombardment of Yeonpyeong, South Korea. Another Battle E award followed in 2012.
With her unlimited range, flexible armament fit and one of the quietest submarine designs in the world, USS Jimmy Carter is a powerful addition to the United States Navy's underwater fighting force.