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Skipjack Class Attack Subs

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posted on May, 17 2006 @ 10:24 AM
I'm trying to research the Skipjack class of attack sub and I'm surprised at how little information I can Google - no deck plans or internal layouts for starters.

I know the class was the first to use the incredible (for its day) S5W reactor, Albacore hull design, sail mounted fins, and single screw - but not much else apart from the Scorpion disaster.

Apparently the S5W reactor was once detailed in a copy of American Scientist - it had cutaways and amazing detail, but I have been unable to locate a copy. This reactor was the first to incorporate a sealed control rod unit that used magnets to raise and lower the rods - something the Russians didn't figure out for a long time, so they used open topped units with mechanical linkages that gradually flooded their early nuke boats with radiation.

As for the Skipjack I would like to know more about her sensor capabilities (detailed info is now available on the sensor suite in the Nautilus for example), weapons load out, weapons capabilities, and as I said before the internal deck layouts.

If anyone has any good sources I'd appreciate a link.


[edit on 17-5-2006 by Winchester Ranger T]

posted on May, 17 2006 @ 12:11 PM

posted on May, 17 2006 @ 01:31 PM
Winchester Ranger T

While I was working on the Los Angeles class program ...during the whole program there were attack and SSBN type boats which came in for repairs and also for decommissioning. One of these was a unusually short type very tapered boat...with Six torpedo tubes...shooting through what we would consider the sonar dome. I mean six tubes..horizontal. Very unusual configuration.
This turned out to be a Skipjack class boat in for some repairs before going out to be decommissioned. I dont recall the name of the ship but I couldnt resist going down on her to take a tour around the engine rooms , control rooms and of course the torpedo room.
I can tell you she was not roomy....most submarines are not roomy but this one expecially. IN the engine rooms you had to stoop down to get round and through some of the passage ways as guard places were extending into the passageways..guarding/protecting certain moving parts from injuring people. And I mean really stooping down to clear and pass by these gurads. Los Angeles class boats are not roomy by any means...but this was tight confines I can assure you .
As on most boats the torpedo rooms are quite roomy. Sure enough ..six tubes..horozontal... very unusual configuration. As I recall the weapons or rather the tubes the weapons were loaded into ..seemed to be smaller...and the rack rollers for handling them. This indicated that this boat was built sometime before the complete transition from 19 inch torpedos to 21 inch torpedos standard today. Later boats were to have rollers which could be switched ..from the 19 inch position to the 21 inch position and could handle both types. The tubes would be fitted with a sleeve taking up a inch on each two inchs to make up the difference from 19 to 21 inch. It is very intresting when you see a set up like this.
Sonar seemed to be a older type similar to what was used on the olde boomers ..sort of a band along the sides of what would be a the sonar dome...sort of a wide strip. There were other sensors added to the boat since becoming operational to compliment the sonar system.
She was covered in tiles especially around the engine rooms sections of the hull for noise abatement. Also the Sail structure was quite tall..for a submarine of this size and had a door on the side for exiting and entering. A feature to which that time I had seen only on the older boomers. She still had hatchs which one could go from the top of the sail down into the boat.
It looked like a towed array sonar set up had been added to it since its commissioning ..probablly a modification somewhere in her service life as these things are constantly being upgraded..even today.
Crews accomodations were pretty sparse as is the case on all boats ..but I got the impression that the crew compliment on this type boat was not as high as the Los Angeles...some 125 or so for a Los Angeles ..and if I recall some 80 or so people for this type boat...dont hold me to that as it has been some years back.

I consider myself very fortunate to have had the opportunity to go on one of these older boats so as to see how technology has changed through the years. I have had the opportunity since to go aboard SSBNs the older polaris/trident type.. Sturgeon class boats..many of them and of course the Los Angeles class boats. Also of recent..the Virginia class boats being built.
I consider myself more of a submarine man than aircraft carriers. I dont like carriers at much walking to get to your job. You can seriously wear out several pairs of shoes working on the large Nuclear air craft carriers during a overhaul. Dont forget anything when you go to your job...then you have to go all the way back to get it. See what I mean.

I will not discuss any particualars of how the fuel rod mechanism are this is classified and somewhat changing technology changes. Nor particulars about these reactors..suffice it to say that they are powerful for thier size..both carrier types and submarines.

By the way ..very nice pictures in the attachments to Zaphod 58s posts ..very nice.

Thanks for your post,

posted on May, 17 2006 @ 04:02 PM
Zaphod - that first link is great - thanks.

Orangetom - what I wouldn't give to have seen that Skipjack you had the opportunity to tour. A family relative was an engineering officer on the S5W and he has promised me a detailed breakdown on it's layout when we next get together (he's on the wrong coast). Operational security is of course important, and I'm sure he won't tell me anything classified (I sure hope he does though
) but reactor design of the older models fascinates me. I'm sure the new Virginia class boats have a set up that can generate enough power for New York and are fully computer controlled with quadruple backups and a 40 knot top speed, but the venerable old S5W and the Skipjack that carried it is a lot more interesting to me.

The six tube layout with 19 inch tubes is indeed unusual, but the crew quarters would be fascinating to see. I wonder how many racks those 80 or so guys had between them and what would the captain/first officer/engineering officers get to sleep in, a separate cabin/shared cabin, or just regular racks that they didn't have to share. With such a small sub I also wonder what the patrol duration would have been and how much fresh water she carried, did she have refrigeration and freezers for food or just storage lockers. How were the Heads designed, the size of the mess, the number of decks etc etc

I would have given my left accessory to tour a decomissioned Skipjack, the little sub just "looks" right. Alas they trashed them all, and tours of nuke boats probably make the Navy nervous anyway, understandably so.

For what it's worth, I'm extremely envious that you got to see one. Keep up the good work on those Virginia class boats, they look like winners.

Thanks again

posted on May, 18 2006 @ 12:06 PM
Ahhhh...just settling into a nice glass of Iced Tea after some strenuous labors cutting grass here in Virginia.

Yes Zaphod 58 posted some great links to the Skipjack class boats and within the links were connections to other boats of different classes. I have bookmarked those links Zaphod 58 posted for future reference.

I can tell you a few things about the crews accomodations on most boats. THe Skipper and his exec have their own cabins. Very small with fold down bunks to save room. EVen the sinks fold up and out of the way when not in use. THe commode is not like anything you have ever seen. They have ball valves in the bottoms so that when you flush..nothing comes back radical maneuvers. A good idea. Very expensive commodes...and heavily bolted to the floors..with a o ring gasket/seal. Nothing like what we have a home....nor Home Depot/Lowes.

LOL LOL...I felt it appropriate to begin this post with some bathroom humor..LOL.

Los Angeles class boats hot bunk..meaning not everyone has their own bunk. One guy gets off shift and crawls into the other guys stink. Alot of Los Angeles class sailors who had served on the previous Sturgeon Class fast attacks liked the old class boats better for their bunking arrangements. No hot bunking on these older class boats. Chiefs of course have thier own bunking area...the goat locker it is sometimes called. Officers have their areas..they dont have individual rooms ...only the Skipper and his Exec. The rest of the enlisted take what they can get. Some rank/time and grade applies here of course.

As to patrol durations...they are limited on a nuclear boat by the health of the crew and of course provisions. While they dont like to keep attack boats out to sea as long as Boomers...they can re provision out at sea from tenders and such if need be...extending their patrols as necessary or as ordered.

Breathing air when submerged is by way of a Hydrogen producing machine...which electrically seperates the two componenets Hydrogen and Oxygen...getting rid of the Hydrogen and keeping the oxygen. The ships breathing air is also run through a machine called a scrubber remove CO2...through a very nasty granulated. chemical which looks like Tasters Choice..Coffee..but far ..far ...far ...nastier. This stuff is so cannot get close to it without a good will literally gag you ..stop you from breathing. Anyway they filter the air through charcoal filters and also scrub the CO2 out of it through a machine called a scrubber.
Close to the galley they have a reefer ..or refrigerated stores..and a freezer...walk in type. If you have a fatality at sea and cannot off load them ..they put them in here in the body bags till they can off load or bury at sea. This system on the Los Angeles class boats used Refrigerant R12 and was very effecient. This R12 system also powered the Ice Cream Machine.....very important to crew morale. Absolutely. This was one of our favorite things to be around when they were testing the Ice Cream machines. We always looked foreward to it.
Many sailors like to put to sea..beacuse the chow on Submarines is much better than surface ships...some actually put on weight at sea and come home to lose it. Strange bunch ..some of these submarine sailors..strange bunch.
As I understand it the refrigeration systems ..and the air conditioning systems both are now switching over to R134..just like automobiles and refrigerators in our homes. They are more computer controlled today ..than were the analog systems of can monitor them from remote fill in your logs rather than running all around the ship like in the olde days...roving watchs.
There are also racks for canned provisions and bags ..of stored stuff like flour ..sugar..etc...dry stores as it is called. I have actually been on one boat putting out to sea from the yards..where there were canned provisions stored everywhere up foreward...then a layer of plywood then more provisions. I mean like all through the foreward passage ways. The crew would have to eat their way through this stuff. I had never before this time seen such a thing happen from right out of a repair yard. It was as if they were going right out on a patrol from the yard. They usually go over to Norfolk from the yards for a few weeks before shipping out. It was quite impressive though difficult to get around up foreward with ones tool bag...stooping over into a very uncomfortable posture to get through the passageways. Reminded me of stuff I had heard olde WW2 sub vets speak about when preparing for sea.

You are correct about the new ships and boats using more computer controls. It is designed to limit the number of crew memebers necessary to put to sea...fewer roving watchs etc etc. This is being incorporated piecemeal in the overhauls of the Nimitz class carriers as they come in for major overhauls. It is being incorporated from the begining on the CVN 21 class carrier designs. They hope to lessen the number of crew necessary to run the ship. Automation.
It is incorporated in the Sea Wolf and the Virginia class boats. Alot of electronics.

By the way ..since I heard it on my Sony Walkman while cutting grass just before I came in ..I will tell you now. I was on the pier the night before the USS Texas put to sea on her first sea trial. I watched the Yard electricians removing the Shore Power connections and install the permanent sea connections in thier place. Same witht the Navy doing thier end of getting the boat ready for sea. It had been years since I had seen a boat getting ready for sea. It was good to see it happen in this yard again. Our job was to be there ready to work if any last minute problems arose with our systems. I was a slack night for us but I enjoyed watching the yard and the Navy go through thier proceedures to ready for sea.

Oh the contunued spirit of bathroom of the last connections to be removed is the sanitary connection. All the tanks are pumped out and then flushed ..the lines emptied and then we are given the cleared paperwork allowing us to remove this aromatic connection. Suitable skill must be appropriately applied in this removal for obvious reasons. It can be trickey if the sea condition at the pier is rough when you are disconnecting it. You'll definitely get wet if the sea state is not suitably calm. Just a part of the job.

That list or sites Zaphod 58 posted..the names of some of the boats of different classes are there. It is strange to see in one list the names of the boats one has worked on over the years.

Hope this helps you some Winchester Ranger T.

Fair winds..sailor,


posted on May, 18 2006 @ 01:59 PM

There's nothing like information form someone who has been there and done that - outstanding post.

Funny you should mention the USS Texas because I recorded a Discovery channel show just last night that features her. I can't wait to get a look into the interior of the sub and learn more about the capabilities of the Virginia class.

Still envy that look around the Skipjack you had, totally envious.

May all your dives be followed by a safe surfacing

Thank you sir

Winchester out.

posted on May, 18 2006 @ 03:04 PM
Fresh water.

I did not discuss these systems in my last post. A oversight on my part.

The older class boats through the LA class used a steam distiller system..though they also had a small electric backup system...which did not make much water...some 1500 gallons per day..verses 8000 to 10,000 per day on the steam systems. have to make enough water for the ships systems, including the ..showers, cooking etc etc. IF need be you just dont take showers...and work and sleep in your know..olde the diesel boat crews. This is one of the really great things about the nuclear boats..unlimited steam capability. More steam potential than they could possibly use... When you shower on a ship like this you dont leave the water soak,turn the water off, lather, then turn the water back on and rinse. No wasting water. This is why ..when you have been good enough to merit a hollywood shower is a real treat. Some submariners have been known to check into a Motel/hotel when they get into port just to stand in the hot showers and let the water run...or take a long hot soaking luxuriate in the feeling. Strange bunch these submariners...strange lot they are. We land lubbers take so much for granted when you realize and know about this type of thing among the people on the boats.
Make up water for various systems is quite a bit. This water is stored in tanks located about the ship. Time to pull maintanence on these units is carefully scheduled if possible so as to reduce down time and get them back on line quickly.

There is a trend to switch over to a system called reverse osmosis..a type of filtering of the sea drinkable usable chemistrys. This has been used in private sailboats or diesel ocean going ships for some time. Only recently has it been used in large ships ...due to the quantitys of water needed. No steam needed for this type of system. A large quantity steam distiller is very expensive.

A large capacity Steam distiller like on a Nimitz class carrier is 100,000 gallons per day..and more ..depending on how effeciently it can be run. If your distiller is in top shape. Remember also how big one of these carriers..are...two showers...other systems...huge..!!! REmember too..these units have to be switched on and off as maintenance is needed or scheduled...meaning the other units have to pick up the slack. Quite a juggling keep all this straight. Lots of responsibility here on someones part to keep all this straight.

Once again ..hope this helps,

posted on May, 18 2006 @ 06:13 PM

Originally posted by orangetom1999
Breathing air when submerged is by way of a Hydrogen producing machine...which electrically seperates the two componenets Hydrogen and Oxygen...getting rid of the Hydrogen and keeping the oxygen. The ships breathing air is also run through a machine called a scrubber remove CO2...through a very nasty granulated. chemical which looks like Tasters Choice..Coffee..but far ..far ...far ...nastier. This stuff is so cannot get close to it without a good will literally gag you ..stop you from breathing. Anyway they filter the air through charcoal filters and also scrub the CO2 out of it through a machine called a scrubber.

There is an oxygen generator to separate H from the O2. The O2 is routed to storage tanks. It's nicknamed the "bomb" for good reason.
The two main filtering devices are CO/H burners and like you said, CO2 scrubbers.
The burners convert CO into CO2. And the scubbers remove the CO2.
There are two of each (one for backup) in various auxillary machinery rooms (AMR) depending on the type of sub.

One of the catalysts, MEA (monoethanolamine) is responsible for the "boat smell". Doesn't matter if you did your laundry the night before going ashore. When you leave the boat, you'll notice a weird chemical smell on your skin/clothes. There are also electrostatic precipitators and charcoal filters within the ventilation system.

The food is good, although I don't know of many people that actually liked going to sea, except maybe the CO/XO and around half the goatlocker. Rank and file enlisted people usually have fairly low morale. Fast attack subs don't get much downtime. Enlisted nukes are notoriously unhappy.

[edit on 18-5-2006 by Schaden]

posted on May, 18 2006 @ 07:35 PM
Thanks for the update and the details.

I had the privelege one night of working with the vendor on the Oxygen generating machines in the diesel room of a Los Angeles class boat one night. We just mainly assisted them with whatever they needed. The machine was up and running..and it was actually very unusual to even see or hear of one broke down. They must be pretty reliable machines as this was the first time I had ever seen a vendor come in on one having problems.

I use the term Hydrogen generating machine in honor of the story he told me that night about the inventor/designer of that particular type of machine. It seemes that back in that particular day a guy had designed that particular compact machine to produce hydrogen for commercial purposes from water..extracting the hydrogen and dumping the oxygen. THe problem was that there were already so many commercial designs of higher volume and competitive price that he could not find a market for his machine.
That is until....he discovered that the US Navy had a specification out for a oxygen generating machine with a specific size and volume in to fit in a very compact space. He immediately realized he was sitting on exactly what they needed. He just had to reverse the results. Save the oxygen and dump the hydrogen.
When this tale was narrated to me I busted out laughing at the irony. A machine originally designed to produce hydrogen would be put to this use. Until this time he was about to go under with his product. Strange the working of some things in this world. That story made my night and I still chuckle to myself when replaying this very story.

Thanks for your input and details,

posted on May, 19 2006 @ 12:12 PM
Obviously a lot of submariner knowledge hereabouts.

The Discovery show on the USS Texas didn't reveal a lot, one of the interesting things was that they fogged out the propulsor section of a Mk.48ADCAP as it was being loaded, specifically the blade configuration as the view was from the rear of the torpedo.

The Navy didn't release the max diving depth of the Virginia class, officially it's 800 feet, but with the new HY100 steel I'm guessing it's probably nearer 2000 feet. They did however state the max diving depth of the Navy's rescue sub, and that was something like 3 or 4 thousand feet - seems like an indicator of capabilities to me.

They also featured the new German Barracuda super cavitating torpedo, I hope we are playing catch up in this area as they said the Virginia's only defence against such a weapon is to be as stealthy as possible.

That new German submarine with the closed loop fuel cell propulsion system looks like an incredible sub too, the Type 212A I think, it was also shown in the show and would be a nightmare to deal with in its primary role as a coastal defence weapon armed with Barracudas.

Great posts guys, thanks.

posted on May, 23 2006 @ 10:04 AM
This torpedo with such blinding speed everyone talks about is exactly that ..blinding speed. It is not able to be that effeciently steered as other models of torpedos.
It is also not quiet. Very noisy.

There are stealth type torpedos out here in operation. They are launched very quietly ..on a program...and then run a slow quiet approach..only opening up the speed and detection capabilitys when they are close to thier target...and it no longer matters. Most peoples watching to many movies do not know that a torpedo can be launched from a distance and very quietly. This is why the back of that torpedo in the program you mentioned was blanked/fogged out.

Those sitting on these targets have time for a "Aw....Sh....!!!!!!!

My point is that blinding speed is not everything.

As to depths and speeds this is obviously classified info..and for obvious reasons.


posted on Jan, 7 2016 @ 11:12 AM
I know this is old and if you are still interested, I served on 2 Skipjack/Scamp Class boats. The U.S.S Snook SSN 592 and the U.S.S Skipjack SSN 585.

Yes the boat had six torpedo tubes 2 high 3 wide. They were always 21 inch tubes 21 ft x 21 inches.

The boats had 2 sonar domes and the tubes went between them. The lower dome is where the passive array was (BQR-2/21) and the upper dome was were the active transducer was located SQS-49.

We did have towed array capabilities, but did not carry it with us all the time. It was deployed and retrieved by hand, and stored on the after deck.

We did not have the ability to make O2 rather it was stored in tanks outside the pressure hull.

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