The Hunters

Article by General O'Hara from Defence Matrix #Discord

Attack submarines, affectionately called ‘hunter-killers are submarines designed specifically to combat enemy surface combatants and submarines. SSNs are attack submarines that are nuclear powered, affording them greater endurance, range, and speed over their diesel-electric counterparts. The endurance of a nuclear attack submarine is only limited by the number of crew supplies,i.e, food, and water. They can, on paper, remain on constant deployment for years on end.SSNs are generally armed with anti-ship weaponry like cruise missiles and torpedoes, they are also sometimes used for covert operations behind enemy lines, as seen in the famous book ‘The Hunt For Red October’. 

Now let's take a look at some of the SSN classes in service with the navies of the world today.

Los Angeles class 

Arguably the most famous nuclear attack submarine in the world, the 6000 tonne Los Angeles class serves as the backbone of the US Navy’s submarine fleet. A whopping 62 boats were built between 1972-1996. In terms of weapons, they have four torpedo tubes capable of launching Mk48 wire-guided torpedoes or Harpoon anti-ship missiles, additionally, all submarines of the class built since 1982 have 12 VLS tubes for launching both land-attack and anti-ship variants of the Tomahawk cruise missile. Some submarines are even specially equipped to carry and deploy SEAL special forces teams for cover operations through the use of special removable modules like the DDS and ASDS.

Astute class

Designed to replace the Swiftsure and Trafalgar class SSNs of the Royal Navy, the 7000-tonne Astute-class represents a renewed effort by Britain to re-establish and bolster its blue-water power projection capabilities. They have 6 torpedo tubes capable of firing Spearfish heavy torpedoes, which are wire-guided and have an active/passive homing head and Tomahawk cruise missiles. The total capacity for weapons in stowage is 36.

Like the Los Angeles, the Astute can also be equipped with DDS modules to facilitate the deployment of elite Royal Marines Commandos.

Barracuda class

The Barracuda class, also sometimes called the Suffren class, are the latest batch of submarines designed by the Naval Group in France. They have a tonnage of around 4700 tonnes, the Barracuda is comparatively small in size but matches and sometimes even exceeds other SSN classes in terms of capability. They have 4 torpedo tubes capable of launching a variety of munitions including SCALP Naval missile, MICA missile, Exocet anti-ship missiles, F21 heavyweight smart torpedoes, and mines. 

The Barracuda class when compared with other submarines is perhaps the ideal solution for the Indian Navy, which needs SSNs despite a tight budget. There is also a diesel-electric variant of the Barracuda class called the ‘Shortfin’.

Yasen class 

In a gentle reminder to the days when Soviet SSNs prowled the Arctic and North Atlantic Oceans, the Yasen class is being built as the replacement to the Soviet-era submarines like the Oscar and the Akula classes currently in the Russian Navy. Having a displacement of 8,600 tonnes when surfaced, the Yasen is a giant beast with a touch of the distinct Soviet submarine design aesthetic. With 10 torpedo tubes and 8 VLS tubes, it can bring a large arsenal to bear at enemy forces, which includes P800 Oniks and Kalibr missiles, RPK-7 anti-submarine missiles, and a variety of torpedoes and mines.

The Yasen class also carries over a distinct component of Soviet nuclear submarines, that being the crew escape pod in the conning tower/sail.