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U.S. SSBN-22 Francis Scott Key class Ballistic Missile Submarine:

With the coming of the Golden Age, it was earnestly hoped that ballistic missile submarines were a weapon of the past. The United States kept a few of their Ohio class ballistic missile submarines in mothballs but otherwise it was considered that fast attack submarines armed with nuclear long range and cruise missiles could do much the same job, if absolutely required. Of course the real hope was that nuclear weapons would never be used again even with the rising tensions. There had been a new ballistic missile submarine program which had been canceled in fact although used as a basis for the Kraken class guided missile submarine.

Unfortunately, all hopes of peace were shattered in the last twenty years of the Twenty-First Century. The politicians as well as Navy leadership decided that there was no choice but too built a new ballistic missile submarine class to reestablish a credible nuclear deterrent. While ballistic missile defense systems existed, most could be overwhelmed with a large enough number of missiles. Like previous ballistic classes, the Francis Scott Key were designed to hide until they are ordered to fire missiles.

The Francis Scott Key class ballistic missile submarines were the largest submarines built to that date and displaced around 35,000 tons. This was approximately the same size as a Soviet Typhoon class submarine. There was a large debate when this submarine was being developed with some in the Navy preferring the idea of a smaller ballistic missile submarine, only slightly larger than the Ohio class, and armed with sixteen ballistic missiles. Basically the design would have taking the Kraken class guided missiles submarine design, updating it, and replacing the guided missile launchers with ballistic missiles.

Unlike the Soviet Typhoon class which it is often compared, the ballistic missiles were carried behind the submarine’s sail. Payload was vastly increased compared to the Ohio class with the Francis Scott Key class carrying thirty-two ballistic missiles compared with the Ohio class carrying twenty-four ballistic missiles. Of course the individual missiles were larger as well.

Individual submarines of the class was named after a variety of significant Americans. Interesting, the submarines were not always named after government leaders and they avoided avoiding the names of presidents and military officers. Other submarines of the Francis Scott Key class were named after Benjamin Franklin, Betsy Ross, and Susan B. Anthony.

Development proceeded quickly with the program cutting into the budgets of several other significant United States Naval projects. There were a number of cost overruns during the program that almost caused Congress to cancel the program even with the increasing worldwide tensions. Eventually is was planned that thirty of these new ballistic missile submarines would be completed although only twelve were actually completed by the time the Great Cataclysm engulfed the Earth.

Unlike several other submarine classes, few of these operational submarines managed to rendevous with the rest of the surviving American submarine forces. One line of thoughts runs towards the idea that when the world went insane, many non American submarine captains thought that the United States had launched a ballistic missile strike and they went after any American ballistic missile submarines that they could find. Whatever the reason, only a total of four of these ballistic missile submarines survived to rendevous with the other surviving American submarines.

Since then, the New Navy retains these four submarines but has no plans to built any additional ballistic missile submarines. They operate them near their bases as a last ditch defense and each ballistic missile submarine is usually escorted by a pair of fast attack submarines as protection. The New Navy is not willing to risk them being either destroyed or captured.

While their size was controversial, there were a number of good reasons for why they were built to be as large as they were. One was to give the submarine as much space between the outer hull and internal systems to reduce noise as much as possible and make them harder to detect. Another of course was the ballistic missiles themselves. The UGM-166A “Thunder Bird” ballistic missile was far more advanced than the previous UGM-133A Trident II ballistic missile and could range on virtually any target on the planet. In addition, each of the new ballistic missile carried sixteen nuclear warheads. This gives a total of five hundred and twelve nuclear warheads aboard each boat and a single submarine was considered capable of leveling a nation by itself.

With the exception of ballistic missiles, the Francis Scott Key class carries weaponry mainly meant for self defense. The submarine is suppose to hide unless absolutely forced to engage another vessel. The submarine does however mount four torpedo tubes and carries thirty-two torpedoes for reloads. In addition, the ballistic missile has a pair of blue-green lasers mainly used for close range defense against incomings torpedoes. Similar to other United States Navy submarines, the ballistic missile submarine also carries advanced torpedo decoys and noisemakers to attempt to trick incoming torpedoes.

If the Francis Scott Key class could detect another submarine before it was detected itself, it could attempt to hide instead of engaging enemy submarines. To this end, the sonar systems are similar to those carried on most United States navy submarine designs built around the same time and it features both an extremely sensitive hull and towed array sonar system. The towed array sonar was known to be capable of detecting targets out to around two hundred and twenty nautical miles under some conditions.

Of course in order to be able to be able to hide effectively, the Francis Scott Key class is one of the quietest submarine designs ever developed. In addition to the machinery being isolated from the hull, an electrical power system drives the single ultra quiet pump jet propulsor instead of a geared shaft. The submarine is also coated with an advanced sound absorbing rubber tiles in order to further reduce the submarine’s noise.

During the development stage, it was decided that two fusion reactors would have to be used. Otherwise, it would have been needed to develop an all new submarine reactor and that would have both delayed production and further increased development costs. As mentioned previously, there were already concerns of the costs spiraling out of control. This class was the first American submarine class to have two nuclear power plants since the Triton class submarine was scrapped in the late Twentieth Century. Several Soviet submarine classes, including the Typhoon, did however feature a pair of reactors. The twin fusion reactors gave the Francis Scott Key class a top speed of thirty-three knots underwater.

Compared to the Ohio class submarine, the Francis Scott Key is designed for a much quicker turn-around time between deployments. As a result, it can spend far longer at sea than previous ballistic missile submarine classes. This is in large part due to the use of advanced composites and alloys. This has another advantage of allowing these submarines to be operated by smaller crews than might otherwise be required. Total crew is less than one hundred with ten officers. While in United States Navy service, each submarine had two complete crews but the surviving submarine only have one crew in the New Navy.

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: SSBN-22.

Class: Ocean, Strategic Ballistic Submarine.

Crew: 94; 10 Officers, 12 Chief Petty Officers, and 72 Enlisted (Has a high degree of automation).

Troop Capacity: None.

Robots, Power Armors, and Vehicles:


M.D.C. by Location:


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

150 each.


Ballistic Missile Launchers (32, behind main sail of submarine):

100 each.


Retractable Blue-Green Laser Cannon Mounts (2, forward / aft of sail):

200 each.


Troop / Power Armor Hatches (8, 4 each side aft of sail):

200 each.


Manta-Ray Launch Hatch (aft of troop / power armor hatches):



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: 28 knots (32 mph/ 51.9 kph).

Underwater: 33 knots (38 mph/ 61.2 kph).

Maximum Depth: 2.5 miles (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:  36.1 feet (11 meters) not including periscopes and antenna.

Width:   80.4 feet (24.5 meters).

Length:  583.4 feet (178 meters).

Displacement: 26,600 tons surfaced and 36,800 tons submerged.

Cargo: Submarine is very cramped, 80 tons (72.6 metric tons) of nonessential equipment and supplies. 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 tens of billions of credits for a new and undamaged Francis Scott Key class ballistic missile submarine. Each UGM-166A “Thunder Bird” ballistic missile could probably cost over 500 million each.

Weapon Systems:

  1. Two (2) Retractable Blue Green Laser Cannon Mounts: These cannons are mounted with one in front of the main sail and one behind 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: Each cannon inflicts 2D4x10 M.D.C. per blast.

    Rate of Fire: Each can 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 thirty-two 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 thirty-two (32) additional heavy torpedoes for reloads.]

  3. Thirty Two (32) UGM-166A “Thunder Bird” A-4 Strategic Ballistic Missiles: Behind the submarine’s superstructure are three rows of ballistic missiles. The outer rows have eleven missiles each and the inner row has ten missiles and are staggered with the outer row of missiles. These missiles are what make the Francis Scott Key class virtually the most dangerous ship classes on Rifts Earth. Missiles can be launched at depths up to 600 feet (182.9 meters) underwater. Missiles have a range of 12,000 nautical miles but essentially enter a low orbit to do so they would probably be destroyed either by the debris rings or by defense satellites. Missiles can be launched at targets less than 1,000 nautical miles without entering a ballistic trajectory. Each missile has 16 warheads that are each the equivalent of a nuclear long range missile warhead. The missiles can hit targets up to 120 nautical miles (193.1 km) away from where the missile breaks into its multiple warheads and can target multiple targets. Each warhead has independent guidance and is considered a smart missile.

    Maximum Effective Range: 13,809.4 miles (12,000 nautical miles / 22,224 km ) but must be launched ballistically, 1,150.8 miles (1,000 nautical miles /1,852 km) with missiles being launched sub ballistically. Individual missile warheads can hit targets within a 138.2 miles (120 nautical miles /222.4 km) of where the missile breaks into sixteen warheads.

    Mega Damage: Each missile have sixteen (16) warheads which each are equal to a nuclear long range missile warhead (See revised bomb and missile tables for details - nuclear warheads for details.)

    Rate of Fire: Can fire UGM-166A “Thunder Bird” missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), or six (6) missiles per melee round and can be fired at multiple targets at the same time.

    Payload: Thirty-Two (32) “Thunder Bird” ballistic missiles total. Submarine carries no reloads

  4. Eight (8) Advanced Decoy Drones: The submarine carries eight advance decoys drones. They are a small automated vehicles that creates a false sonar image designed to mimic the submarine’s sonar signature. It has a small propulsion system that can simulate movement [has a maximum speed of 23.0 mph (20 knots / 37.0 kph)] and maneuvers. In addition to be able to be used to decoy torpedoes, they can sometimes be used to trick another vessel while the submarine moves into position. If decoys are not destroyed, they can usually be recovered and repaired if they can be retrieved. Rifts Earth decoys systems are assumed to not be effective against Phase World / Three Galaxies guidance and targeting systems due to technological differences.

    M.D.C.: 20.

    Range: Not applicable. Decoys do however have a duration of 30 minutes (120 melee rounds) once launched.

    Effects: The decoy has an 80% chance of fooling ordinary non military sonars and non smart guided torpedoes, the decoy has a 50% chance of fooling military level sonars (like those of the Coalition) and non “smart” torpedoes, and the decoy has a 25% chance of fooling advanced military sonars (Like those of the New Navy and Triax) and “smart” torpedoes.

    Rate of Fire: Boat can launch one decoy drone per melee round.

    Payload: Eight (8) decoy drones.

  5. 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 submarine has all systems standard on a robot vehicle plus the following special features:

[ Altarain TM, Bandito Arms TM, Brodkil TM, Chipwell Armaments TM, Coalition States TM, Cyber-Knight TM, Federation of Magic TM, Free Quebec TM, Golden Age Weaponsmiths TM, Horune TM, Iron Heart Armaments TM, Kankoran TM, Kittani TM, Kydian TM, Larsen’s Brigade TM, M.D.C. TM, Mechanoids TM, Mega-Damage TM, Megaversal Legion TM, Millennium Tree TM, Mutants in Orbit TM, Naruni Enterprises TM, Naut’Yll, New Navy TM, New Sovietskiy TM, NGR TM, Nog Heng TM, Northern Gun TM, Phase World TM, Psyscape TM, Rifter TM, SAMAS TM, S.D.C. TM, Shemarrian TM, Splugorth TM, Stormspire TM, Sunaj TM, Tolkeen TM, Triax TM, Wellington Industries TM, Wilk’s Laser Technologies TM, Xiticix TM, and Zaayr TM are trademarks owned by Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books Inc. ]

[ Beyond the Supernatural®, Heroes Unlimited®, Nightbane®, Ninjas & Superspies®, Palladium Fantasy®, and Rifts® are registered trademarks owned by Kevin Siembieda and Palladium Books Inc. ]

Image drawn and copyrighted by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

Copyright © 2001, 2002, 2003, & 2017, Kitsune. All rights reserved.