Seawolf-Class Submarine

The Seawolf-class is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines (SSN) in service with the United States Navy. The class was the intended successor to the Los Angeles class. Design work began in 1983. At one time, an intended fleet of 29 submarines was to be built over a ten-year period, later reduced to twelve submarines. The end of the Cold War and budget constraints led to the cancellation in 1995 of any further additions to the fleet, leaving the Seawolf class limited to just three boats. This, in turn, led to the design of the smaller Virginia class.

Builders: General Dynamics Electric Boat
Operators:  United States Navy
Preceded by: Los Angeles-class submarine
Succeeded by: Virginia-class submarine
Built: 1989–2005
In commission: 1997–present
Planned: 29
Completed: 3
Cancelled: 26
Active: 3
General characteristics

Surfaced: 8,600 tons

Submerged: 9,138 tons
Length: 353 ft (107 m)
Beam: 40 ft (12 m)
Propulsion: 1 S6W PWR 45,000 hp
1 secondary propulsion submerged motor
1 shaft
1 propeller

Surfaced: 18 knots (21 mph; 33 km/h)

Submerged: 35 knots (40 mph; 65 km/h)
Range: unlimited
Endurance: unlimited except by food supplies
Test depth: 2,000 ft (610 m)
Complement: 140
Crew: 14 officers; 126 enlisted
Armament: 8 × 660mm torpedo tubes (50 Tomahawk cruise missile/Harpoon/Mk-48 torpedo)

Compared to previous Los Angeles class submarines, Seawolf submarines are larger, faster, and significantly quieter; they also carry more weapons and have twice as many torpedo tubes, for a total of 8. The boats are able to carry up to 50 UGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles for attacking land and sea surface targets. As in all nuclear submarines, the load out of equipment, weapons and crew affects available excess buoyancy and thus operational parameters. The boats also have extensive equipment to allow for littoral, or shallow water, operations. The class uses the more advanced ARCI Modified AN/BSY-2 combat system, which includes a new, larger spherical sonar array, a wide aperture array (WAA), and a new towed-array sonar. Each boat is powered by a single S6W nuclear reactor, delivering 45,000 hp to a low-noise pump-jet.

As a result of their advanced design, however, Seawolf submarines were much more expensive. The projected cost for twelve submarines of this class was $33.6 billion, but after the Cold War, construction was stopped at three boats.


  • USS Seawolf (SSN-21) – commissioned and in service
  • USS Connecticut (SSN-22) – commissioned and in service
  • USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) – commissioned and in service


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