The Los Angeles-Class Submarine: The Navy’s ‘Old’ Sub That Could Sink Russia’s Navy

    Kyle Mizokami


    She is old, but she is a killer. 

    Armament consists of four 533-millimeter torpedo tubes for all production submarines. The tubes are placed amidships on the hull due to the bow housing the active/pass sonar array. The ships can carry twenty-six torpedo tube-launched weapons, which at the height of the Cold War included Mk.48 homing torpedoes, up to eight Tomahawk cruise missiles, Harpoon antiship missiles and CAPTOR mines. The last twenty-three submarines were equipped with twelve vertical launch silos for Tomahawk missiles, a concept carried on with the Virginia class, for a possible total of twenty Tomahawk missiles.

    The Los Angeles–class nuclear attack submarines were the most successful American submarines of the Cold War. The United States built sixty-two Los Angeles–class subs, more than any class except for the Gato class of World War II. Fast, powerful and heavily armed, the submarines are slowly being replaced by Virginia-class attack boats.

    The Los Angeles–class submarines, also known as the 688 class, were first designed in the early 1970s. The first ship, Los Angeles (SSN-688), was laid down in 1976. The submarines were produced at a Cold War pace, with production averaging three to five submarines annually, significantly higher than the current pace of two Virginia-class submarines produced annually. The Navy sustained this rate of production until 1992. Over the twenty years the class was produced, various systems, including propulsion, bow and towed sonar, and even hull material were upgraded to reflect the latest technology.

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