The Navy's new attack sub is 337 feet of stealthy, black death
The Navy's youngest sub is the USS John Warner, a Virginia-class attack submarine. Commissioned in August and launched in September, it's the most advanced and dangerous vessel in the oceans today.
Photo: US Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Casey Hopkins
The John Warner "is the most high-tech, it is the most lethal warship pound for pound that we have in our inventory," Adm. Jonathan Greenert told CNN while he was the Chief of Naval Operations.
The 337-foot long sub carries 12 Tomahawk cruise missiles in vertical launch tubes and has four torpedo tubes that can fire Mk 60 CAPTOR mines, Harpoon anti-ship missiles, or Mk 48 heavyweight torpedoes. The submarine can carry up to 40 weapons, trading out certain missiles and torpedoes as required.
All this firepower means the USS John Warner can kill targets whether they're underwater, on the surface, or on land.
A Virginia-class attack submarine launches a torpedo. Graphic: Department of Defense Ron Stern
Alternatively, weapons racks can be removed and the sub can carry and deliver unmanned undersea vehicles or a team of Navy SEALs. Both UUVs and SEALs can be launched underwater from a large lock-in/lock-out chamber.
Here are a few other impressive features of the John Warner:
- The large missile tubes on the sub may allow it to wield other missiles in the future, possibly even hypersonic missiles.
- As it sneaks beneath the waves, the stealthy sub carries the AN/WLY-1 acoustic countermeasure system to guard against torpedo attack if it is detected.
- She also makes drinking water and breathable air for her crew of 132. Some of that water is sent to the sub's onboard clothes washer and dryer.
- The sub can sail submerged at 25 knots thanks to an S9G nuclear reactor that's designed to last for 33 years, the submarine's entire service life, without ever refueling.