Monday, October 17, 2005

The Most Successful Submarine Class

Cross-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.

Going deep...


At 6:15 AM, Blogger xnavyct said...

You hit the nail on the head on 637 boats...Sturgeons rule.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Vigilis said...

Bubblehead, there is more to your story. Two favorable factors came to pass by the end of 1943 to enable the Gato/Balao success factor: serious reliability problems with the MK XIV torpedo were fixed, and squadrons learned to use more effective fighting tactics (wolfpacks by the time Balao class boats were being commissioned. In 1942, 30% of boat skippers had been relieved for ineffectiveness. This was reduced to only 14% in 1943.

And many skippers, like Mush Morton of Wahoo fame (Gato class), had been around on earlier class boats like Dolphin, with failure rather than success.

At 12:00 AM, Blogger Rob said...

Still, I have to give credit (like Bubblehead) to the Gato/Balao boats. Much of what we do today, and much of our history and traditions, are based on those old WWII workhorses.

Yes, a good part of it was the leadership of men like Morton, Cutter, O'Kane, Ramage, and Fluckey...and the crews they led into battle. But those boats were ahead of their time and by the end of the war they were battle-tested and tough as nails.

I can't really enter the argument on 637's...never been on one. In fact, my oldest boat (Oly, SSN-717) is only slightly newer than SLC, which is decomming...I've done 3 688's. I've heard much good about the old 637's, though...and nearly everyone I serve with who was on one seems to prefer 'em over 688's.

At 6:58 AM, Blogger J Rich said...

PermitClass (USS DACE SSN607) RULE


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