Los Angeles-class

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U.S. Navy Los Angeles-class attack submarines have been in three major generations, starting with the 31 boats of the SSN-688 design, beginning with USS Los Angeles (SSN-688), commissioned in 1971. A number of this group have been decommissioned.

The 23 boats, from SSN 719 onward, added vertical launch system tubes, primarily for land attack BGM-109 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The final 31 boats (Improved Los Angeles-class), also called "Improved 688i", have improved under-ice capability, better electronics, and are quieter.

Design goals

Considerable controversy went into establishing the design goals for the class. Just as surface warships classically have to balance armament, protection and speed, submarines need to balance even more factors:

  • Speed
  • Operational depth
  • Quietness
  • Habitability
  • Armament

The previous Sturgeon-class was a more general-purpose design; the top priority for the Los Angeles was sufficient speed to cruise with aircraft carriers.[1]

Evolving characteristics

SSN 688-718

Flight II

Improved 688i



  1. Phillip Boyer (September 28,1990), speech for the decommissioning of USS Queenfish (SSN651) on Friday, 9/21/90, Submarine base, Pearl Harbor, "Patrol" newspaper