Murky Waters for the Supersub

The heralded Seawolf may be too slow and too costly

Measuring 353 ft. from stem to stern and a potbellied 40 ft. across at the waist, the U.S. Navy's proposed SSN-21 Seawolf-class nuclear attack submarine looks more like a whale with a weight problem than a swift and silent undersea marauder. Yet when the first of a projected 30 Seawolfs sets to sea in 1995, her proponents hope she will live up to her name by proving to be a deadly hunter-killer beneath the waves. "The Seawolf," says the Navy's top submariner, Vice Admiral Bruce DeMars, "will be the supersub of the 21st century."

But at more than $1.8 billion apiece,...

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