According to a special information bulletin circulated by the Russian Shipbuilding Agency among directors of military shipyards, America is actively building more and more nuclear-powered vessels. Russian military shipbuilders read information about activity of American colleagues with sadness: it turns out that US’s shipbuilding is experiencing a real boom. The rate with which America builds nuclear submarines can’t be compared with Russia’s. It is rather paradoxical but Americans financed liquidation of Russian nuclear subs with ballistic missiles provided within a so-called Nann-Lugar program, but at the same time the USA itself is expanding the nuclear threat.
By the way, it is for the first time that information for high-ranking authorities compiled on the basis of open materials published in the foreign press is not classified as secret at all in Russia. It used to be classified in Russia some time ago. Wasn’t it done for Russian shipbuilders not to envy success of the USA in the sphere?
Production of nuclear subs of Los Angeles, Ohio, Virginia classes has become more active in the USA recently. Two shipbuilding giants, Newport News (Newport) and General Dynamic’s Electric Boat Division (Groton, Connecticut) are operating now at their full capacity, with practically the same effectiveness that Russian shipyards did in the Cold War era (six battle nuclear subs were produced every year then). And now, America has come up with Russia and practically left it behind. Newport News can build up to four battle nuclear submarines per year.
The first launching of a Seawolf class submarine with the same name took place in July 1997. Designing of this class of submarines started in the mid 1980s for fighting the most powerful threats on land and at sea. Seawolf’s main objective was liquidation of Soviet nuclear submarines with ballistic missiles on board before the latter venture to attack American targets. Soviet nuclear subs were the most dangerous weapon in the intercontinental war arsenal. That is why order for construction of the first sub of a new class, Seawolf, was made in 1989 already. Seawolf subs were supposed to gradually substitute submarines of a Los Angeles class. However, the need in submarines of this class died away with the end of the Cold War, moreover, cost of the sub was too high. And it was decided to suspend the program in favor of smaller and cheaper submarines of a Virginia class.
Seawolf (SSN21) was launched in 1997, the second submarine of this class, Connecticut (SSN22), was built in 1998; both are identical in their construction. The Seawolf submarines are more manoeuvrable than Los Angeles subs; production technology of the sub has been simplified due to a compartment construction. Designers even provided for a space for further upgrade of the equipment and armament. Seawolf became America’s first nuclear submarine with a 108 meter hull made completely of HY100 steel (HY80 steel was mostly used with the previous models). The innovation allows the submarine to dive to the depth of up to 610 meters, and even under Polar conditions. Seawolf’s propulsive system is based upon a GE PWR S6W reactor, two 52,000 horse power (38.8 thousand kWh) turbines, a water engine and a secondary motor designed for diving. Designers paid special attention to noise reduction: Seawolf is ten times quieter than even improved Los Angeles submarines; that is why the tactical velocity is twice as much and makes up 25 knots. The maximal velocity is 35 knots. The Lockheed Martin BSY-2 battle control system is based upon more than seventy of Motorola’s 68030 processors. Ratheon Mk2 system is designed for fire control. No weapons are placed outside the submarine. The sub is equipped with Tomahawk class missiles made by Ratheon; the missiles can be used for offensives on land and at sea. Tomahawks for land offensive have the radius of 2,500 km. Tercom’s passive navigation system directs a missile flying with transonic speed to the targets placed at a height of 20-100 meters. Tomahawks can be equipped with warheads, but there are usually none on board. Seawolf is also equipped with Boeing’s anti-ship missiles of a Harpoon class; they use an active radar for pointing a warhead with the weight of 225 kg, and distance to the target may reach 130 km. Seawolf has eight outcomes for launching missiles or torpedoes which number may be about 50 aboard. ADCAP’s torpedoes Gould mk-48 can attack ships and speedy submarines with deep diving. Warhead mass makes up 267 kg.
Another, the third sub of Seawolf class (SSN23) named after President Jimmy Carter was launched in December 2001. At the same very time Russian President Vladimir Putin took part in launching of a Gepard class submarine at the Sevmashpredpriyatiye enterprise in Severodvinsk. The Russian submarine was successfully delivered to the place of its regular service, but its American rival was soon sent for modification for its better maneuverability under water and more space for missiles.
According to America’s original plans, 45 submarines of a Seawolf class were to be built. Moreover, the USA planned to equip the submarine fleet with different modifications of Seawolf, but the whole question turns on money: one Seawolf costs $4,2 billion, at the time when one Los Angeles costs $800 million only. At the same time, it is an open secret that America’s military budget is speedily increasing, that also means, the USA will keep on building more and more submarines. A question arises then: was it right that Russia took America’s financing for liquidation of its submarines when they could be successfully modified and serve for 20-30 years more?
Vitaly Bratkov PRAVDA.Ru
Translated by Maria Gousseva
Read the original in Russian: http://pravda.ru/main/2002/07/29/44838.html