These are the top 10 deadliest attack submarines in the world

Ever wondered what the world's most lethal attack submarines are?
Christopher McFadden

What are the best attack submarines in the world? Can you really call a war machine great? Shut up and tell me which ones are the best! Ok, let's find out. Using an analysis of the vessel's offensive capability, stealth, and other features we'll explore some of the most advanced underwater predators in the world. Yeah right, they have to look at the business too!

Designed and built to hunt and destroy hostile submarines and ships, they are the wolfs of the sea. They must have great sonar in order to detect their prey. Combined with this, attack submarines need to close on their targets with minimal chance of detection. Clearly, once they've struck, they need to clear the area equally as stealthily. Who knows what anti-submarine ships or aircraft are skulking around? Some of the more modern hunters have cruise missile payloads for both ships and land-based targets. To be most effective a great submarine must combine these attributes.

The following is our selection of 10 of the greatest attack submarines in the world. Feel free to add your suggestions in the comments. Now, I'm in the mood to watch The Hunt for Red October.

1) Seawolf Class (USA)

Entered Service: 1997 Diving Depth: 487m Weaponry: Mk. 48 Torpedoes, Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Tomahawk cruise missiles

Arguably the best attack submarine in the world. The US Seawolf is a very expensive but highly advanced weapon of war. They were designed and built to restore lost technological superiority after the mid-1980s and change the balance of power. At the time, they provided a large advantage over the other countries. Their primary perceived victims were the Typhoon and Akula class submarines. 

Initially, 12 vessels were planned for construction but only 3 submarines were built. All three are currently still in active service. After this time the US Navy switched to the cheaper Virginia Class subs. This naval vessel is exceptionally quiet even at high speeds. Most ships need to travel at less than 5 knots to avoid detection but this class can cruise at speeds of 20 knots and still avoid detection. These vessels can operate at greater depths than existing subs and under the polar ice caps. A pretty formidable submarine by all accounts.

2) Virginia class (USA)

Entered service: 2004 Diving depth: over 250 m Weaponry: Mk.48 torpedoes, Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles.

The successor to the Los Angeles class of subs, the Virginia Class was designed as a smaller, cheaper, and more versatile alternative to the Seawolf Class. The United States Navy's pride, this class incorporates newly designed anechoic coating, isolated deck structures, and a new propulsion system to provide a low acoustic signature. Its noise level is equivalent to, apparently, the Seawolf Class.

These killers are fitted with 12 vertical launch tubes for Tomahawk cruise missiles. They also come equipped with 4,533 mm torpedo tubes. Amazingly, these boats can even be used for special ops with built-in Navy SEAL staging areas. Its auxiliary generator draws power from 3512B V-12 marine diesel engine. 

3) Astute class (United Kingdom)

Entered service: 2010 Diving depth: over 150 m Weaponry: Spearfish torpedoes, Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles, Tomahawk cruise missiles.

First commissioned by the Royal Navy in 2010, the Astute Class of Nuclear-powered submarine is an impressive boat and the future of warfare. Seven of them are planned for construction and they will replace the aging Swiftsure class of subs. They are significantly stealthier and more heavily armed than their predecessors the Trafalgar class.

Fitted with six 533 mm torpedo tubes they can fire Spearfish torpedoes, Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Tomahawk cruise missiles. This modern submarine set a standard for the whole Royal Navy (as well as British Army) when it comes to weapons. 

4) Graney class (Russia)

Entered service: 2013 Diving depth: Around 300 m Weaponry: various torpedoes, anti-ship, and cruise missiles.

The Russian project 885 Yasen (code-named Graney Class by NATO) is the latest Russian nuclear sub. The lead vessel, Severodvinsk, had her hull laid in 1993 but the project stalled due to funding problems. The project was only recently re-commissioned in 2013 by the Russian Navy. Russia apparently has 6 of these planned for construction and they are intended to replace the older Akula class.

These vessels have 24 vertical launch tubes for cruise missiles and 8 650 mm torpedo tubes for anti-ship missiles and torpedoes.

5) Sierra II class (Russia)

Entered service: 1992 Diving depth: Around 400 m Weaponry: Torpedoes, SS-N-15 Starfish or SS-N-16 Stallion anti-submarine missiles, SS-N-21 Samson cruise missiles

The successor to the ill-fated Alfa class the Sierra II series has two light and strong titanium hulls. The Sierra class can operate at great depths, has reduced radiated noise levels, and increased resistance to torpedo damage. Those sneaky Soviets had Titanium tech far more advanced than the West at the time allowing it to withstand a much larger force. It required fewer passes to achieve a successful weld. Construction was very expensive for the hulls and these boats were few in number.

Despite their high operating costs, the Russian Navy still maintains these vessels. In the last few years, Russians performed a full redo and introduced the new model Zvezdochka. The building work addressed the ship's defects and replaced nuclear fuel and all electrical equipment.

6) Improved Los Angeles class (USA)

Entered service: 1988 Diving depth: 450 m Weaponry: Mk.48 torpedoes, Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles, and Tomahawk land attack cruise missiles.

Although aging in comparison to the Seawolf and Virginia class, the US Navy currently operates around 4o of these subs. They have proved to be exceptionally good ASW platforms. These improved vessels are around 7 times quieter than their predecessors. This class of subs sports a very potent weapon array indeed. Dedicated vertical launch tubes fire Tomahawk missiles much like its newer alternatives. This class is also capable of operating under ice - cold weather is not a problem!

7) Akula class (Russia)

Entered service: 1986 Diving depth: Around 300 m Weaponry: Torpedoes and missiles

One of the most popular attack submarines and Russia's pride, the Akula class was first launched in the late 1980s. They marked a drastic improvement in Soviet submarine design, they were much quieter and had better sensors than their forerunning SSNs. So much so, in fact, that it performed better than Western nations expected. The Akula II class became the first Russian subs to actually be quieter than the latest US attack subs at the time.

These boats have four 650 mm torpedo tubes and four 533 mm tubes. They make up around half of the Russian fleet of subs.

8) Soryu class (Japan)

Entered service: 2009 Diving depth: Around 250 m Weaponry: Type 89 torpedoes, Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

First commissioned in 2009, The Soryu class actually has diesel-electric powered propulsion systems. They also sport air-independent propulsion systems that allow them to stay submerged for long periods of time without surfacing to charge batteries. This increases their submerged endurance to weeks from days. They also have enhanced stealth and operational capabilities. They do suffer range and endurance compared to their rival nuclear-powered attack submarines.

The Soryu class has hydrodynamic designs and is fitted with anechoic coating. Their interiors also sport sound isolation for the loader components of their systems. The Sorya also lacks vertical launch systems and has a relatively limited payload compared to other ships on this list.

9) Ohio class (USA)

Entered service: 2006 Diving depth: 300 m Weaponry: Mk.48 torpedoes, Tomahawk cruise missiles

Originally designed to carry intercontinental ballistic missiles allowing them to attack from below the water surface, the four eldest of the Ohio class were converted between 2002 and 2008 to carry cruise missiles instead. The Ohio, Michigan, Florida, and Georgia classes had their Trident 2 ballistic missiles replaced with smaller Tomahawk cruise missiles. Each converted ship is now capable of carrying around 154 of these missiles.

These boats also come equipped with 533 m tubes for torpedoes. Inside these tubes, there's room for canisters that can be used by the crew. They also have lockout chambers and can even carry special forces personnel.

10) Oscar II class (Russia)

Entered service: 1986 Diving depth: 500 m Weaponry: Various torpedoes and anti-ship missiles. P-700 Granit (SS-N-19 Shipwreck) cruise missiles.

Known to the Russians as Project 949A Antey, NATO designates this class as the Oscar II. Oscar II's are the third largest subs in terms of displacement and length. Only the Soviet Typhoon and American Ohio class are longer. It's interesting to note that the Oscar II is probably the most capable of existing Russian submarines regardless of its long history. 

Only 4 remain out of a planned 19, only 11 were actually built. By modern standards, they are far from being the stealthiest vessels. They are, however, heavy hitters being built to take out US aircraft carriers. These big subs come equipped with 650 mm and 533 mm torpedo tubes that can launch warheads.