Thesis Title

The Future of the U.S. Nuclear Attack Submarine and the Preservation of the Submarine Industrial Base

Date of Graduation

Summer 1996


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Jack Crouch

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


This thesis analyzes the future role and utility of the nuclear-powered attact submarine and the concomitant requirement for the Navy's New Nuclear Attack Submarine (NSSN) program and the need to preserve the submarine industrial base. An investigation of the Navy's emerging doctrine on the employment of naval forces in the post-Cold war world demonstrates that the submarine will remain a viable and potent instrument of U.S. naval power. Despite the Navy's emphasis on regional warfare, the continued development and deployment of advanced nuclear-powered submarines by Russia remains the standard by which the U.S. submarine force should be measured. The proliferation of advanced diesel-powered submarines thorughout the world, exemplified by the growth of China's submarine force, poses an emerging threat that the U.S. Navy must be prepared to confront in the midst of a regional contingency. In the context of these threats, the NSSN program is analyzed in relation to the anticipated roles and missions required of naval forces in the future. Based on the submarine's future utility, the Navy's strategy to preserve the submarine industrial base is examined, including possible alternatives to that strategy.


© Stephen Michael Hellyar