The U.S. Navy just tested a new delivery system for supplying submarines while underway at sea—by drone. In a video released by the Navy, a large quadcopter-type drone seen hovering above the deck of a ballistic-missile submarine. A small payload, not much larger than a small backpack, dangled from a line attached to the drone. Despite the gentle rolling of the submarine’s hull, the drone successfully made the drop. The video description read:
“An unmanned aerial vehicle delivers a payload to the Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine USS Henry M. Jackson (SSBN-730) around the Hawaiian Islands. Underway replenishment sustains the fleet anywhere/anytime. This event was designed to test and evaluate the tactics, techniques, and procedures of U.S. Strategic Command’s expeditionary logistics and enhance the overall readiness of our strategic forces.”
The US Built A New Submarine The World Is Afraid Of
While nuclear power seems for many to be a fairly modern innovation, research on nuclear marine propulsion started way back in the 1940’s. In fact, the first nuclear-powered submarine took its maiden voyage in 1955. Since then, the tech, range, power and capabilities of these nuclear vessels have improved exponentially. So, what is the latest in the world of nuclear-powered marine vessels and what can we predict on the horizon?
In this episode we are going to learn all about the latest generation of nuclear-powered ships and take a guess on what leaps we’ll make in the future.
The USS Montana will be a Virginia-class submarine of the United States Navy. She will honor the U.S. State of Montana. Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced its name on 3 September 2015 at a ceremony hosted in Billings, Montana with U.S. Senator Jon Tester (D-MT). She will be only the second commissioned warship bearing the name “Montana”.
A contract modification for USS Oregon (SSN-793), Montana (SSN-794), and USS Hyman G. Rickover (SSN-795) was initially awarded to General Dynamics Electric Boat for $594.7 million in April 2012. On 23 December 2014, they were awarded an additional $121.8 million contract modification to buy long lead-time material for the three Virginia-class submarines. The U.S. Navy awarded General Dynamics Electric Boat the contract to construct 10 Block IV Virginia-class submarines for $17.6 billion on 28 April 2014. The tenth boat is scheduled for delivery in 2023.
Here Comes the USS Montana: The US Navy’s Latest Stealth Submarine
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If you do the math, the Ohio-class boats may be the most destructive weapon system created by humankind. Each of the 170-meter-long vessels can carry twenty-four Trident II submarine-launched ballistic-missiles (SLBMs) which can be fired from underwater to strike at targets more than seven thousand miles away depending on the load.
As a Trident II reenters the atmosphere at speeds of up to Mach 24, it splits into up to eight independent reentry vehicles, each with a 100- or 475-kiloton nuclear-warhead. In short, a full salvo from an Ohio-class submarine—which can be launched in less than one minute—could unleash up to 192 nuclear-warheads to wipe twenty-four cities off the map.
The ‘F-22’ of Submarines: Why America Built Only 3 of the Deadliest Submarines Ever
In the late 1980s, the U.S. Navy was faced with a crisis. In 1980, the Soviet Union had received information from the Walker family spy ring that the Navy could track its submarines through excessive propeller noise. As a result, the Soviet Union went looking for advanced Western machinery to make better propellers. In 1981, the Japanese company Toshiba sold propeller milling machinery—now relatively common nine-axis CNC milling machines—to the Soviet Union via the Norwegian Kongsberg corporation.
By the mid 1980s, the Soviet Union’s new machinery began to make itself felt. The new Akula-class submarines had a “ steep drop in broadband acoustic noise profiles ”. One government source told the Los Angeles Times , “the submarines started to get silent only after the Toshiba stuff went in.” On top of running silent, the Akula class could dive to depths of up to two thousand feet—while the U.S. Navy’s frontline submarines, the Los Angeles class, could dive to only 650 feet.
To combat the threat of the Akula class, the U.S. Navy responded with the Seawolf class of nuclear attack submarines. The Seawolf submarines were designed with HY-100 steel alloy hulls two inches thick , the better to withstand the pressures of deep diving. HY-100 steel is roughly 20 percent stronger than the HY-80 used in the Los Angeles class. As a result, the submarines are capable of diving to depths of up to two thousand feet, and crush depth estimates run from 2,400 to 3,000 feet.