The main objectives of attack submarines are to seek and destroy enemy vessels but there are significant additional tasks that they carry out as well, including intelligence and reconnaissance.
The Navy has three classes of the attack submarines. The Los Angeles class, the Seawolf class of the new high tech stealth Virginia class.
With 41 Los Angeles class submarines that carry Tomahawk cruise missiles, the navy relies heavily on them for support.
The Seawolf class was commissioned in 1997 and is more technologically advanced than the Los Angeles class. They are quieter, faster and better equipped weaponry, with up to 50 torpedoes.
Of course, the next generation attack submarine class, the Virginia (SSN 774) has incorporated a number of advanced technology that significantly improves its tactical strategy. With a priority on littoral (close to shore) operations, it is able to maneuver in shallow water more efficiently than its predecessors.
New, technical innovations were incorporated over the standard traditional periscopes in most submarines. Two photonics masts that provide infrared digital cameras have been placed on top of the telescoping arms. With the removal of the barrel periscopes, the ship’s control room has been moved down one deck to provide more room and an improved control room layout. Subsequently, this provides the commanding officer with enhanced control and awareness.
The Virginia Class subs are equipped with 87 Virginia Payload Tubes (VPTs), each capable of launching six Tomahawk cruise missiles from each tube.
Together, these three classes of submarines provide the support and intelligence the Navy counts on during peacetime and in the event of war.