New Navy Argonaut class Supply & Support Submarines:

Like any truly effective navy, the New Navy requires support and supply vessels. Before the coming of the Great Cataclysm, the United States Navy used large surface vessels to keep their submarine forces supplied and supported. Unfortunately, virtually every support vessel of the United States Navy was destroyed during the cataclysm and the ocean surface has become far more dangerous than it had ever been before. This forced the New Navy to develop submarines to fulfill the roles that were previously done by surface vessels.

The Argonaut class submarine is actually two designs that use the same basic hull with one acting as a supply and cargo vessel and the other design acting as a support submarine. These designs were only developed after the foundation of the New Navy and one of only a handful of new designs developed by the New Navy since the Great Cataclysm. In most cases, old United States Navy submarines designs have been found to be superior to anything operating on Rifts Earth and as such there has been little impetus for new designs. The only navy that comes anywhere close to the expertise and technology of the New Navy since the cataclysm is the New German Republic Navy. These is a fair amount of speculation among New Navy officers that the New German Republic Navy will be forced to develop their own submersible support vessel for their submarines operating far from their home ports.

The concept behind the Argonaut class submarine is not completely original. There had been some conversions of attack submarines to carry a limited amount of cargo previously and Germany had produced cargo submarines in World War I and support submarines known as “Milch Cows” during World War II. These “Milch Cow” submarines enabled German combatant submarines to operate for twice as long as they could otherwise. Both the crews of theses support submarine and other submarine crews affectionately call the Argonaut class submarines “Milch Cow” after the World War II German support submarines.

Currently the New Navy operates thirty-eight of these submarines split between eight support versions and thirty cargo / supply versions. Even though the New Navy has little expanded their own forces, mostly concentrating on maintaining their existing forces, they currently have plans to construct ten more of the cargo and supply versions. These will be used to conduct trade between the New Navy and their various allies.

When operating outside of a submarine battle group, the cargo and supply versions are usually operated as an underwater convoy and are usually escorted by one or more attack submarines. Quite often the older Tigershark class fast attack submarines are tasked with escorting them. Usually submarine battle groups have two cargo and supply submarines assigned to them as well as single support submarine.

The Post Rifts “Milch Cow” is one of the largest submarines every put into service, around the same size as the Francis Scott Key class ballistic missile submarine. Still, these submarines are dwarfed by the various submersible super carriers produced by various navies including the Triax submersible carriers and the New Navy submersible carrier U.S.S. Ticonderoga. The Argonaut class submarines are actually slightly longer than the than a late Twentieth Century Soviet Typhoon class ballistic missile submarine.

These boats are built to have the maximum possible space for either cargo or support equipment and much has been sacrificed in order to better facilitate these submarines acting as auxiliaries. for this. Still, wherever possible systems from other designs are used aboard the Argonaut class submarines. One exception to this is that a smaller power plant was installed and the auxiliary submarine is capable of only twenty-five knots compared to thirty-five or greater knots for most other submarines operated by the New Navy. In order to be operated by as small a crew as possible, the Argonaut class submarines has extensive automation.

Still the world after the Great Cataclysm is an extremely dangerous place and it was decided that the vessel need to carry some weaponry. Even so called “Safe Waters” often enough have threats to require the submarine to be armed. However, the weaponry is mainly limited to that required for self defense. This includes a single blue-green laser mounted forward of the main sail. In addition, the submarine has four torpedo tubes and only twenty-four torpedoes are usually carried. No missile launchers are mounted on the design unlike most other submarines operated by the New Navy. While theoretically missiles could be fired from the torpedo tubes, there are no know cases where they have been carried aboard any Argonaut class submarines.

While the hull sonar is retained, the towed sonar array has been deleted in order to reduce crew and increase available volume aboard the submarine. It is not as big a weakness as one might first thing because the hull sonar, even though shorter ranged, is still incredibly effective. In fact, the sonar system is the same one as is mounted on virtually all other New Navy submarines.

One feature that the designers were unwilling to sacrifice were the various noise reducing features. In fact, the Argonaut class submarines are considered to be as quiet as any fast attack submarine operated by the New Navy. These auxiliary submarines mount a pump jet propulsor, are covered with advanced sound absorbing rubber tiles, and use an electrical propulsion system in order to minimize the noise they produce.

Compared to most other submarines operated by the New Navy, the main sail is located far back in the hull. In fact, the design is slightly reminiscent of the old Soviet Typhoon class submarine in this respect. This is because the cargo section or support section is located in front of the main sail of the submarine.

When the submarine was first being designed, it was suggested by a few advisors that they might develop a single submarine design which could fulfill both roles simultaneously. This was soon rejected because each role would cut too deeply into the requirements for the other role. Instead, the New Navy developed two vessel designs that utilized the same basic hull design but were quite different internally.

With the more numerous cargo transport design, it has a large cargo hold which allows it to carry up to ten thousand tons of cargo. It is however divided into sections in order to limit flooding if the hull is breached. There are eight cargo hatches above the main deck. Industrial materials, food supplies, and ordnance are among the more common cargoes carried in order to resupply other vessels or are transported between bases. All cargo transfers are done on the surface of the water unless the vessel is inside of an underwater base and has two retractable cargo cranes for the purpose of cargo transfer.

The tender and support version of the Argonaut class submarines has a greatly reduced cargo carrying capacity and largely replaces the cargo space with machine shops and a medical deck. The submarine carries mostly repair parts in its limited cargo holds, although it also carries a small amount of ordnance and food supplies as well. Each section is designed to far more compact that they would be on a surface submarine tender. In spite of this, the repair sections are capable of most repairs on other submarines, even relatively serious ones. There are numerous times a New Navy submarine would have needed to be abandoned if not for these support submarines. As with the cargo version, the support submarine has two cargo cranes which are largely used to move larger components back and forth. A total of 120 technicians assigned to the repair section of this submarine.

For medical facilities, the medical deck of the support submarine is capable of dealing with most medical emergency and has two small but efficient operating rooms. The medical section is staffed by eight doctors, eight nurses, and forty-four medical personnel, largely corpsmen. With regards to patients’ beds, the support submarine is able to embark up to four hundred patients.

While transfer of equipment and patients is done on the surface, most major work is done while the vessel is underwater whenever possible. This included both equipment repair and major medical procedures. When the submarines is submerged, it is far more stable than while it is operating on the surface.

Authors Note: While Rifts: Underseas indicates that the New Navy operates only the USS Ticonderoga, Trident class Submersible Carriers, and Stingray and Sea Dragon class submarines, this writeup (and other new Navy Submarine designs) is designed to give the New Navy a larger variety of submarine classes.

In addition with respect to time line, these designs may or may not reflect our modern time line. The time line of these writeups diverged from our time line starting around 1999. Consider the universe that these designs are created for to be an alternate universe not bound by ours.

Model Type: SSAN-01

Class: Submersible Auxiliary Support Vessel.


Supply Version:

56; 6 Officers, 6 Chief Petty Officers, and 44 Enlisted.


Support Version:

244; 32 Officers, 20 Chief Petty Officers, and 192 Enlisted.

Troop Capacity: None.

Robots, Power Armors, and Vehicles:


M.D.C. by Location:


533 mm (21 inch) Torpedo Tubes (4, sides of submarine):

150 each.


Retractable Blue-Green Laser Cannon Turret (1, front of sail):



Cargo Hatches (8 on supply version / 4 on support version):

400 each.


Cargo Cranes (2):

100 each.


Main Sail:



[1] Bow Planes (2):

200 each.


[2] Pump Jet Propulsor (1):



[3] Main Body:



[1] Destroying the submarine’s bow planes will reduce the submarine’s ability to change depths but will not eliminate it. It also makes it difficult for the submarine’s crew to control the submarine giving a penalty of -25% to all underwater piloting rolls.

[2] Destroying the submarine’s pump jet propulsor causes serious problems. The submarine will no longer be able to use forward momentum and the bow planes to keep the submarine level. It is recommended that ballast tanks are immediately blown so submarine comes to the surface.

[3] Depleting the M.D.C. of the main body destroys the submarine’s structural integrity, causing it to sink. If the submarine is underwater, the entire crew will die unless protected by environmental armors that can withstand the pressure that the submarine is under. If on the surface, there are enough flotation devices and inflatable life rafts to accommodate everyone aboard.


Water Surface: 20 knots (23 mph/ 37.1 kph).

Underwater: 25 knots (28.8 mph/ 46.3 kph).

Maximum Depth: 1.5 miles (2.4 km).

Range: Effectively Unlimited due to fusion engines (needs to refuel every 20 years and requires maintenance as well). The vessel carries 12 months of supplies for the crew on board.

Statistical Data:

Height:  39.4 feet (12 meters) not including periscopes and antenna.

Width:   82 feet (25 meters).

Length:  590.5 feet (180 meters).

Displacement: 35,500 tons surfaced and 44,300 submerged.

Cargo: Supply Version: 10,000 tons (9,072 metric tons) of cargo. Support Version: 2,000 tons (1,814 metric tons) of cargo.

Cargo does not include crew supplies and the boat is still considered quite cramped. Each enlisted crew member has a small locker for personal items and uniforms. Boat’s officers have a bit more space for personal items although still extremely cramped. Most of the boat’s spaces are taken up by extra torpedoes, weapons, and engines.

Power System: Nuclear fusion; average energy life of 20 years. Normally refuels every 10 years.

Black Market Cost: Not for sale; many nations and organizations would pay hundreds of millions to billions of credits for a new and undamaged Argonaut class Support / Supply Submarine.

Weapon Systems:

  1. One (1) Retractable Blue Green Laser Cannon Mounts: This cannon is mounted in front of the main sail and fully retractable under concealing deck plates so that they do not disrupt water flow at high speeds. They are considered useful both underwater and on the surface. As a blue-green laser, they have a greater range underwater than they would otherwise. The weapon system is used mainly as close defense against torpedoes underwater and against aircraft when on the surface.

    Maximum Effective Range: In Atmosphere: 2 miles (3.2 km). Under Water: 1 mile (1.6 km).

    Mega-Damage: Cannon inflicts 2D4x10 M.D.C. per blast.

    Rate of Fire: Four (4) attacks per melee round.

    Payload: Effectively Unlimited.

  2. Four (4) 533 mm Heavy Torpedo Tubes: On the sides of the submarine are four torpedo tubes with two on each side. Tubes are 21 inches (533 mm) wide and torpedoes can be used against both surface ships and submarines. For warheads, heavy torpedoes should be treated as having long range missile warheads. Along with standard torpedoes, the launcher can theoretically also fire missiles (long or cruise) in special canisters and rocket boosted ASW torpedoes. Submarine carries twenty-four reloads for torpedoes (in addition to four torpedoes in the tubes) and can carry up to sixty-four mines in place of torpedoes. Mines and missiles are rarely carried.

    Maximum Effective Range: 40 miles (34.8 nautical miles / 64 km) for torpedoes.

    Mega-Damage: By heavy torpedo warhead type (See revised Rifts torpedoes for details), can theoretically fire missiles (long range or cruise missiles) in special canisters as well See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Rate of Fire: Can fire heavy torpedoes one at a time or in volleys of two (2), three (3), or four (4) heavy torpedoes. Reloading takes one full melee round.

    Payload: Four (4) heavy torpedoes total [Has twenty-four (24) additional heavy torpedoes for reloads.]

  3. Noisemakers: The submarine carries noisemakers in order to decoy torpedoes. They are most effective against normal torpedoes and less effective against “smart” torpedoes. Considered in many ways to be the last line of defense against incoming torpedoes and similar systems are carried on most submarines. The noisemakers are launched from the middle of the submarine.

    Effects: 50% of decoying normal torpedoes and 20% of decoying smart torpedoes.

    Rate of Fire: Two (2) noisemakers at a time (Can be reloaded in one melee round).

    Payload: Twenty (20) noisemakers.

Special Systems:

The submersible troop transport has all systems standard on a robot vehicle plus the following special features:

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Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2001 & 2017, Kitsune. All rights reserved.