May 25, 2006

Sea Swap and the SSN fleet

Some time back I wrote a paper on sizing the U.S. Attack Submarine (SSN) fleet, in which I attempted to come up with a mission-based methodology for producing a fleet size. This was pre-9/11 but post Cold War. One of the largest factors of the final size was the deployment ratio, or the number of boats required total in order to maintain a certain number on station at sea. The deployment ratio that could be attained made a huge difference in the total number of hulls required, obviously, as a multiplier. A question that I asked but wasn't able to satisfactorily answer was "Why can't the Navy dual-crew SSNs the way they dual-crew SSBNs?"

Well, an answer is closer, if not settled. They can, really, which is what I sort of thought at the time too. While there may be technical issues with current subs which make this more difficult - notably, systems which require maintenance on regular cycle which can't be removed from the submarine for depot maintenance due to limited access port sizes on the boat (SSBNs have larger accessways specifically to allow depot maintenance of critical system components to maximize at-sea times) this is something that could certainly be solved in a new-design SSN, of which we've had at least one since I wrote that paper.

It's nice to know I at least managed to get something close to right - i.e. yes, that number was important; yes, the Navy thought so too, enough that they experimented, and yep, it makes a big difference.

Posted by jbz at May 25, 2006 4:37 PM | TrackBack

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