More mods for USS Jimmy Carter
The third of the class, 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. 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 were originally scheduled delay the ship's scheduled delivery by approximately 27 months, until mid-2004, but the ship will be fully operational within a year after delivery.
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.