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SSN-23 Jimmy Carter

USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23) was chosen to serve as a test bed for studying the evolution of submarine missions in the 21st century. It will support classified research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) efforts for notional naval special warfare (NSW) missions, tactical undersea surveillance, and undersea warfare concepts. Differentiating the Jimmy Carter from all other undersea vessels is its Multi-Mission Platform (MMP), which includes a 100-foot hull extension that enhances payload capability, enabling it to accommodate advanced technology required to develop and test an entirely new generation of weapons, sensors and undersea vehicles. Additionally, a dedicated and reconfigurable electronics suite using commercial off-the-shelf technology and open architecture will make it easy to accommodate future payloads and sensors.

The key to this production has been the Integrated Product and Process Development approach - also known as the Design/Build approach. An entire 100-foot, 2,500-ton hull section, nearly as complex as an entire Los Angeles-class submarine has come from concept to construction and integration with the overall ship in just under five years. The MMP provides Jimmy Carter with a wealth of capabilities. It has an ocean interface that allows for the operation of a Remotely Operated Vehicle, which will be able to retrieve and deploy weapons, countermeasures and sensors. It's also Special Operations-friendly. Jimmy Carter can accommodate a Dry Deck Shelter or an Advanced SEAL Delivery System for Special Operations Forces (SOF). It has a Reconfigurable Cargo Area, which allows for stowage of SOF supplies, and it features a Command Center Suite for mission planning. The Jimmy Carter can also berth up to 50 SOF personnel.

Structurally, the MMP puts a "wasp waist" in the ship's pressure hull. That is, between the wasp waist and the outer hull is seawater at sea pressure. Inside the wasp waist is normal pressure as in the rest of the submarine's interior. The waist itself must allow for all end-to-end pipes and cables as well as crewmembers two-abreast to pass through. The crew passageway is about four feet wide. All the complex subsystems required for storing, boarding, launching, tethering, and recovering ROVs are between the wasp waist pressure hull and the outer hull.

On 10 December 1999 Electric Boat was awarded an $887,113,628 modification to previously awarded contract N00024-96-C-2108 for new efforts on USS JIMMY CARTER (SSN 23) to accommodate advanced technology for naval special warfare, tactical surveillance, and mine warfare operations. Work will be performed in Groton, Conn. (73%); Quonset Point, R.I.. (21%); and Newport News, Va. (6%), and was expected to be completed by June 2004.

The Navy, with funding approved by Congress to complete the Multi-Mission Project, has tasked General Dynamics Electric Boat Division (EB) to provide Jimmy Carter with additional volume and functionality to support new multi-mission opportunities. These changes will have no direct impact on the ship's organic warfighting capability but will give the submarine an enhanced payload capability with a more modular architecture. The required modifications delayed her scheduled delivery by approximately 27 months, until mid-2004, but the ship will be fully operational within a year after delivery.

The planned alterations include lengthening the hull behind the sail and inserting an Ocean Interface (OI) section that will support the Multi-Mission Project by opening larger payload apertures to the sea. The resulting modular architecture will allow the ship to be configured for specific missions using interchangeable payloads and tailored support services, yet it will preserve the submarine's core mission capabilities for normal tasking. The OI hull insert is unique, with a horizontal "hourglass" configuration that necks the pressure hull down to a "wasp waist," so that when the section is faired over, significant external volume will be available outside the pressure hull, but still within the skin of the ship. This will allow more flexibility in designing and adding systems and storage, while maintaining a smooth hydrodynamic hull shape with minimal impact on the ship's draft.

The OI facilitates more flexible payload interfaces with the water and imposes far fewer constraints on the shape or size of weapons, auxiliary vehicles, and sensors to be deployed from the submarine. The OI supports the launch and recovery of tethered and autonomous vehicles without incurring many of the difficulties of current designs using torpedo tubes. The external volume under the shroud could also contain the necessary support systems for such vehicles. This approach would allow the host submarine to control the vehicle from within the ship without consuming valuable internal space for large cable reels or other support equipment. The OI will also allow the ship to deploy and retrieve a new generation of weapons, countermeasures, and sensors, which can now be developed without the size limitations imposed by torpedo or vertical launch tubes. In addition, Jimmy Carter will be configured with an advanced communications mast to support the high-volume data requirements of network-centric warfare, as well as DSB-recommended auxiliary maneuvering devices for low speed operations in littoral regions.

Despite her modification to conduct classified RDT&E, Jimmy Carter will retain all her organic warfighting capability, as shown in the accompanying table. She will support the fleet commander as an attack submarine in conducting undersea warfare, surveillance and reconnaissance, covert special operations, mine warfare, and strike operations, just as her two sister ships do. She will also be available to the Navy to test future concepts for weapons, countermeasures, and non-traditional payloads - tasking that is currently divided among several submarines. In addition to these robust capabilities, Jimmy Carter will also be capable of supporting Special Operations Forces (SOF), with provision for operating the Dry Deck Shelter (DDS) and Advanced SEAL Delivery System (ASDS). Moreover, one of the ship's most important functions will be to support research and development for future Naval Special Warfare (NSW) undersea mobility requirements, tactics, techniques, and procedures. Jimmy Carter had already been programmed to support NSW, but the additional volume and length of the OI provides even greater potential to develop new roles for submarines in special operations. The OI will provide a hangar or garage capability for locking-in and locking-out future generations of SEAL delivery vehicles, and her reconfigurable cargo area can accommodate dry stowage and access for maintenance. Other internal volume will be available as command and control space for mission planning and monitoring, plus dedicated berthing space for up to fifty SOF Team members. The extra external volume created by the hourglass design allows for stowage of SOF supplies like Combat Raiding Craft, fuel, munitions or delivery vehicles.

On December 20, 2002 Raytheon Co., Marlborough, Mass., was awarded a $24,470,000 cost-plus-fixed-fee contract for procurement of the Advanced Communications Mast (ACM). The ACM is a super high frequency antenna system to be operated on the SSN-23 submarine. It consists of electronic control equipment located in the radio room and antenna/transmitter equipment located in the sail. The ACM must interface with existing submarine systems as well as unique data source equipment installed only on the SSN-23 submarine. Work will be performed in Marlborough, Mass., and is expected to be completed by December 2007. Contract funds will not expire at the end of the current fiscal year. The contract was not competitively procured.

Space and Naval Warfare Systems Command's Submarine Communication Program Office (SPAWAR PMW-173) is developing a Common Submarine Radio Room (CSRR) for all submarine classes in the fleet. Their goal is a common communications system that differs among submarines only when there are platform-unique considerations due to mission needs, external interfaces, and engineering factors. A CSRR land-based test facility is under construction at NUWCDIVNPT that will provide a single testbed configurable for integrating, testing, solving problems, and providing training for the radio rooms of all classes. The USS Jimmy Carter (SSN-23), currently under construction, will be the first submarine delivered with the full CSRR configuration in FY04, followed by the Virginia (SSN-774) class, USS Seawolf (SSN-21) and USS Connecticut (SSN-22), and the Ohio class (including SSBN and SSGN), all starting in FY04 or FY05. Finally, the Los Angeles (SSN-688)-class boats will begin upgrades in FY06.

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Page last modified: 07-07-2011 12:54:42 ZULU