The first United States Navy submarine to be powered with the Westinghouse S5W design reactor was commissioned in 1959.
USS Skipjack was the lead ship of the first class of nuclear-powered submarines built with the Albacore hull design, and also unique in that it was the first nuclear submarine with a single shaft. Placement of the bow planes on the sail greatly reduced flow noise at the bow-mounted sonar. Deep-diving and high speed capabilities were the result of HY-80 construction and a new reactor design, the S5W. This reactor became the US Navyís standard until the Los Angeles class joined the fleet in the mid-1970ís.
Fuel life spans depend on how much the ship is operatee, and how accurately one can predict reactor performance. Current cores for the NIMITZ Class aircraft carrier, LOS ANGELES Class SSN, and OHIO Class SSBN last on average about 20 years.
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Updated Saturday, February 27, 1999 7:56:20 AM