The 688, or Los Angeles Class
is the backbone of the US Submarine Fleet, or the Silent Service
. It was originally designed during the cold war to hunt down and kill Russian SSBN
s before ICBM
s could be launched against the US.
The 688 and the 688I (improved) are feared the world over. Their reputation is so notorious that the mere possiblility that a 688 might be lurking in the area is enough to send entire navies running for port. Although the 688 is becomming old, they are still valuable tools for the USN (United States Navy). With government cut backs the old 688 boats will be the first to be decommisioned. The 688I and the Seawolf class will become the only two attack submarines in the fleet.
The 688I is a very cool toy. It is equiped with one of the finest power plants ever created, to this day everything aft of the forward reactor sheild wall (or all the engineering spaces) are classified on American and British subs (the British buy their ractors from the US). The sonar is state-of-the-art and consists of three different arrays: the spherical array which makes up the "nose" of the 688, the conformal array which is on the sides of the hull and the towed array, a cable dragged behind the sub to get very accurate directional and range fixes and for hearing very low band sounds at long ranges. The active sonar, located in the spherical array is so powerfull that the water on the surface of the array will boil when a ping is emitted. The ping can be heard almost 90 miles away. All the power of a large commercial radio station is emitted in the form of a single massive sonar ping.
But by far the best part of the 688I is the weapons and fire control systems. The standard weapon of the 688I is the Mark 48 torpedo. The Mark 48 can be used as a fire and forget weapon or a fly by wire. The Mk 48's computer can be pre-programmed with a complex search pattern. It can be told not to attack anything above or below a givin depth and it can listen passively or search with it's own active sonar. If you are the conrtolling type, you can fire the torpedos and maintain contact with them through a thin wire. Data on what the torpedo "sees" is transmitted back and the weapons officer can type in a new course to alter the torpedo's path. This is handy for low-speed interceptions when the target changes course or speed. In addidion to this the 688I, like the 688 can carry cruise missiles in their torpedo room. These missiles, usually Harpoons, are pre-packaged in watertight containers. These are loaded in to the torpedo tube at periscope depth (30 ft) and released. They then float to the surface on end, the missile is launched from the container with a solid fuel rocket. It then engages it's turbo-fan and proceads to blow the crap out of an enemy ship. This system was developed for the 688 before the VLS systems were installed.
VLS stands for Vertical Launch System. These are vertical missile tubes in the bow of the 688I (you can tell the difference between the 688s with the VLS and those without by the "nose-up" attitude of the non-VLS equiped boats). These can hold not only Harpoon anti-ship missiles but Tomahawk cruise missile for use against ground targets.
The 688 is a cool toy that any country would kill to have. So be glad that we are the only ones to have it!