The Most Successful Submarine ClassCross-posted from The Stupid Shall Be Punished:
The week after next, USS Salt Lake City (SSN 716) will be decommissioned in San Diego after just 21 years of commissioned service. This will drop the number of Los Angeles Class submarines remaining in the fleet to under 50.
This got me to thinking... is the Los Angeles Class the most successful submarine class of all time? Their combined years of service is greater than that of any class of nuclear boats, and they had the enviable distinction of never having had a boat lost... despite some close calls.
On the other hand, the Sturgeon class boats were probably more responsible for the actual "fighting" in the most intense periods of the Cold War, and none of them were lost either. While the LA's were clearly a "more capable" boat, I know a lot of guys who would rather sneak around in someone else's backyard in a 637 than anything else.
For myself, though, I'm going to cheat and combine two similar classes of boats into one to make it the "most successful sub class ever". The Gato/Balao class boats of WWII bore the brunt of the fighting in the Pacific war, sinking about 50% of the total Japanese shipping lost during the war and establishing a tradition for success that kept the U.S. in the forefront of undersea warfare to this day. Twenty-eight boats of these classes were lost in the fight. If success is measured in putting ordnance on target, these submarines, and the submariners who drove them, will likely never be surpassed.