The LA class serves as the backbone of the United States submarine force. The LA class is an attack submarine, whose mission is to engage enemy surface ships and submarines, perform covert operations, and to protect carrier battlegroups (CVBG
s), which are the primary unit of US naval/military power.
There are two main types of submarines that the United States Navy operates; the 'boomers' like the Ohio Class Missile Submarine, and the SSN attack subs. The boomers are strategic missile submarines, and use the SSBN designation. Their mission is to go on 'strategic deterrence' patrols, and avoid contact. The LA class and other SSNs have a mission completely opposite from this; theirs, in addition to their other duties, is to seek out enemy submarines, and destroy them before they may launch their missiles. An example of an SSBN would be the USS Alabama as seen is Denzel Washington/Gene Hackman's movie Crimson Tide, and an example of an SSN would be the LA class USS Dallas from Tom Clancy's Hunt for Red October. The differences between the two missions is illustrated in these movies.
The LA class was the brainchild of Admiral Hyman Rickover, and was for a long time a politically controversial design. Many opposed the construction of such a costly design, and the United States Navy favoured their Conform Class attack submarine, for its cost and habitability. The Enterprise Incident of 1969, however, made a strong case for developing Rickover's faster Los Angeles Class design. Rickover proceeded to win support for the project in the United States Congress (with some particularly interesting politics going on; see The Naming Traditions of United States Navy Submarines).
The LA class is capable of missions lasting many months. The only limit to the length that a LA class sub may be underway, or underwater is that of the food supplies, and the tolerance of the crew. The nuclear reactor (which puts the 'N' in SSN) provides massive amounts of power for many years, which allows the ship to convert sea water to oxygen for breathing, and fresh water for food preperation, drinking, showering, and toilets. The submarine service is reputed to recieve the best food in the US Navy, to help make up for the fact the crew is crammed into such a small space for such long periods of time. Typically, LA class subs carry ninety days worth of food. Before a sub leaves port, every single nook and cranny is completely filled with food and other consumables.
Aboard the LA class, like all military submarines (non-fictional ones, SeaQuest doesn't count), space is at a high premium. Some of the measures that are in place to make good use of the space is the hot bunking system, in which crew members share bunks. It's called 'hot bunking', because when you hit the bunk, it's still warm from the last person to use it. The bunks are six feet long, and three feet wide, and only two feet tall. The largest area of the ship is the Enlisted Mess, which serves as the ship's recreation/tv/movie/food/class room, and it can hold fifty or so at a time (almost half the crew).
One of the few places that women are not allowed to serve in the US Navy (and military in general) is aboard submarines. This is for very practical reasons, and does not reflect on any doubts as to the capabilities of women, but is a consideration for the morale of the men crewing a submarine; it is thought that by having women aboard a submarine would put undue stress upon the men, and over the course of months, may cause 'undesired results'. It has been speculated that an all-woman submarine crew would be perfectly acceptable, but the Navy lacks qualified women for such a project.
The LA class is capable of striking targets underwater with her mk-48 torpedoes, surface ships with Tomahawk and Harpoon missiles, and land targets with Tomahawk missiles. During the Gulf War of 1991, Los Angeles class subs were responsible for firing many of the Tomahawk missiles used against Iraq.
The USS Los Angeles (SSN-688) was ordered on January 8, 1971, and was comissioned on November 13, 1976. Since then, eighty-five Los Angeles Class ships have been delivered to the US Navy, with most of them still operating in 2002. With the Seawolf Class Attack Submarine, and Virginia Class Attack Submarine classes of attack submarine mired in cost overruns, politics, and skepticism about their necessity, the Los Angeles ships look as if they will form the backbone of the United States's submarine force well into the 21st century.
Builders: Newport News Shipbuilding Co.; General Dynamics Electric Boat Division.
Power Plant: One nuclear reactor, one shaft
Length: 360 feet (109.73 meters)
Beam: 33 feet (10.06 meters)
Displacement: Approx. 6,900 tons (7010.73 metric tons) submerged
Speed: 20+ knots official (30-35 knots speculated), (23+ miles per hour, 36.8 +kph)*
Crew: 13 Officers, 116-121 Enlisted
Cost per Ship: $900 million, US (in 1990 dollars)
Average Cost of Operation per ship, Fiscal Year 1996: $21 million, US
Tomahawk missiles, Harpoon missiles fired from Vertical Launch System (VLS) tubes (SSN 719 and later),
MK-48 torpedoes, ADCAP Advanced Capability toperpedoes from four forward torpedo tubes
Date deployed: November 13, 1976 (USS Los Angeles)
*'Official' speed only (the plus sign allows for a great deal of uncertainty). The top speed of the Los Angeles Class is not fully disclosed, although it is suggested to have been designed to operate as high as 35 knots submerged. A 30-or-so knot submerged speed is accepted as the unofficial top speed.
Name - Hull number Home port (commissioned - decomissioned)
USS Los Angeles SSN-688 Pearl Harbor (13 Nov 1976)
USS Baton Rouge SSN-689 Norfolk (25 Jun 1977 - 13 Jan 1995)
USS Philadelphia SSN-690 Groton (25 Jun 1977)
USS Memphis SSN-691* Groton (17 Dec 1977)
USS Omaha SSN-692 Pearl Harbor (11 Mar 1978 - 05 Oct 1995)
USS Cincinnati SSN-693 Norfolk (10 Jun 1978 - 29 Jul 1996)
USS Groton SSN-694 Groton (08 Jul 1978 - 07 Nov 1997)
USS Birmingham SSN-695 Pearl Harbor (16 Dec 1978 - 22 Dec 1997)
USS New York City SSN-696 Pearl Harbor (03 Mar 1979 - 30 Apr 1997)
USS Indianapolis SSN-697 Pearl Harbor (05 Jan 1980 - 17 Feb 1998)
USS Bremerton SSN-698 San Diego (28 Mar 1981 - 2001??)
USS Jacksonville SSN-699 Norfolk (16 May 1981 - 2001??)
USS Dallas SSN-700 Groton (26 Jun 1981)
USS La Jolla SSN-701 Pearl Harbor (30 Sep 1981)
USS Phoenix SSN-702 Norfolk (12 Dec 1981 - 29 Jul 1998)
USS Boston SSN-703 Groton (30 Jan 1982 - 18 Jan 1999)
USS Baltimore SSN-704 ? (24 Jul 1982 - 10 Jul 1998)
USS City of Corpus Christi** SSN-705 Groton (08 Jan 1983)
USS Albuquerque SSN-706 Portsmouth (21 May 1983)
USS Portsmouth SSN-707 San Diego (01 Oct 1983)
USS Minneapolis-St. Paul SSN-708 Norfolk (10 Mar 1984)
USS Hyman Rickover SSN-709 Norfolk (21 Jul 1984)
USS Augusta SSN-710 Groton (19 Jan 1985 - 2008)
USS San Francisco SSN-711 Norfolk (21 Apr 1984)
USS Atlanta SSN-712 Norfolk (06 Mar 1982 - 22 Jan 1999)
USS Houston SSN-713 San Diego (25 Sep 1982 - 2000??)
USS Norfolk SSN-714 Norfolk (21 May 1983 - 2001??)
USS Buffalo SSN-715 Pearl Harbor (05 Nov 1983)
USS Salt Lake City SSN-716 San Diego (12 May 1984 - 2005)
USS Olympia SSN-717 Pearl Harbor (17 Nov 1984 - 2006)
USS Honolulu SSN-718 Pearl Harbor (06 Jul 1985 - 2007)
Added 12 Tomahawk vertical launch tubes, improved reactor cores for SSN-719+
USS Providence SSN-719 Groton (27 Jul 1985)
USS Pittsburgh SSN-720 Groton (23 Nov 1985)
USS Chicago SSN-721 Pearl Harbor (27 Oct 1986)
USS Key West SSN-722 Pearl Harbor (12 Sep 1987)
USS Oklahoma City SSN-723 Norfolk (09 Jul 1988)
USS Louisville SSN-724 Pearl Harbor (08 Nov 1986)
USS Helena SSN-725 San Diego (11 Jul 1987)
USS Newport News SSN-750 Norfolk (03 Jun 1989)
IMPROVED 688I Class
688I (the I means 'improved'!) ships are significantly quieter (Navy officials say ten times quieter than the original 688 series), make use of the BSY-1 Sonar Suite
, and can lay mines from their torpedo tubes. The forward diving planes
have been moved from the sail (or 'conning tower') to the bow, and the sail has been strengthened to help the 688Is break through ice.
USS San Juan SSN-751 Groton (06 Aug 1988)
USS Pasadena SSN-752 Pearl Harbor (11 Feb 1989)
USS Albany SSN-753 Norfolk (07 Apr 1990)
USS Topeka SSN-754 Pearl Harbor (21 Oct 1989)
USS Miami SSN-755 Portsmouth (30 Jun 1990)
USS Scranton SSN-756 Norfolk (26 Jan 1991)
USS Alexandria SSN-757 Groton (29 Jun 1991)
USS Asheville SSN-758 Bremerton (28 Sep 1991)
USS Jefferson City SSN-759 San Diego (29 Feb 1992)
USS Annapolis SSN-760 Groton (11 Apr 1992)
USS Springfield SSN-761 Groton (09 Jan 1993)
USS Columbus SSN-762 Pearl Harbor (24 Jul 1993)
USS Santa Fe SSN-763 Pearl Harbor (11 Dec 1993)
USS Boise SSN-764 Norfolk (07 Nov 1992)
USS Montpelier SSN-765 Norfolk (13 Mar 1993)
USS Charlotte SSN-766 Pearl Harbor (16 Sep 1994)
USS Hampton SSN-767 Norfolk (16 Nov 1993)
USS Hartford SSN-768 Groton (10 Dec 1994)
USS Toledo SSN-769 Groton (24 Feb 1995)
USS Tucson SSN-770 Pearl Harbor (18 Aug 1995)
USS Columbia SSN-771 Pearl Harbor (09 Oct 1995)
USS Greeneville SSN-772 Pearl Harbor (16 Feb 1996)
USS Cheyenne SSN-773 Pearl Harbor (13 Sep 1996)
*The USS Memphis (SSN-691) has been equipped to function as a testbed for new submarine technologies, systems, and equipment. The Memphis retains her combat capabilities.
**The USS City of Corpus Christ
was given the 'City of' because US Navy officials did not want to have a sub with world wide exposure going around with a name that translates to 'Body of Christ
'. Presumably the 'City of' part of the name is dropped in all but formal communications. (Thanks goes to NotFabio
for this interesting tidbit!)
Most statistics and numbers and ship list by hull number acquired from the United States Navy Fact Files
. Most dates and money values from the Federation of American Scientists