Cold War Sturgeon Class Nuclear-Powered Attack Submarine (SSN)
The main US Navy attack submarine of the Cold War, 39 Sturgeon Class SSNs were built in the late 1960s and 1970s. Their primary purpose was anti-submarine warfare against all types of seagoing Soviet submarines including ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs), cruise missile submarines (SSGN) and attack submarines (SS / SSN).
The design was larger and quieter than the preceding SSN-585 Skipjack and SSN-594 Permit classes, but because it used the same powerplant it did sacrifice some speed.
Because Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) was becoming critically important during the 1960s the Sturgeon Class were designed to have a larger sail than the Permit Class in order to carry intelligence gathering masts. The crew were often supplemented with civilian ‘technicians’ on missions near Soviet waters.
In the 1980s six Sturgeon Class boats were modified to carry a single Dry Deck Shelter (DDS) to support SEAL Operations including the launch and recovery of Swimmer Delivery Vehicles (SDVs). A single Mk.8 (transport) or Mk.9 (attack) SDV could be carried. In the front of the DDS a separate hyperbaric chamber allowed divers to decompress within the safety of the submarine.
The final Sturgeon Class boat, USS Parche, was extensively modified during her life to perform covert special missions.
Main article: USS Parche
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