U.S. SSN-888 Tigershark class Fast Attack Submarine:

Like other projects in the United States Military, submarine development during the Golden Age fell on severe budget constraints. The United States Navy had constructed some quite effective submarine but some of the new developments made most of the United States designs obsolete. Chief among these were the new high strength alloys, ceramics, and composites that had been developed during this time.

A partial solution would be to reinforce the vessels with the new materials but this was not the best solution. New designs using the high strength materials from the keel out would be a much better way. The Navy made the development of a new fast attack submarine class a priority and pushed heavily for the new program. The Tigershark class was the product of this program.

Largely based on the Virginia class fast attack submarine, the new class were only constructed in relatively small numbers and might be considered something of stopgap design while a more advanced design was developed. Still, the Tigershark class was produced in larger numbers than the SSN-21 Sea Wolf class. After the Los Angeles class being named after cities and the Virginia class being named after states, it was decided that the Navy would go back to fish names for their submarines.

At the same time as the Tigershark class submarines were being laid down, development began on a new advanced fast attack submarine class that later became the Swordfish class. Within just a few years after the U.S.S. Tigershark entered the water, construction began on the first of the Swordfish class.

With first the Tigershark class and then the Swordfish class submarines entering service, older refitted submarines were quickly retired. Within a decade, the Swordfish class escort submarine became the primary United States fast attack submarine design supplemented by Tigershark class submarines. Due to the Tigershark class being constructed from the new materials, they were retained by the United States Navy and they were the only submarines older than the Swordfish class to be retained and continue to serve in front line roles.

While further advancements in noise reduction were made for the Swordfish, the Tigershark was still a very quiet submarine. One important role was the use of the submarines in escorting slower naval battle groups. This freed up the faster and quieter Swordfish for seek and destroy missions. Their large number of cruise missile launchers made them a favorite for land strikes with the ability to carry special forces for special missions. Later of course the Greyback and Kraken class submarines filled these roles.

The United States Navy planned to completely replace the old Tigershark class submarines around 2110 but the Rifts intervened before this occurred. The Navy had planned to replace these vessels with a combination of Swordfish fast attack submarines and Greyback class troop transport submarines. It is interesting that several of the Tigershark class submarines survived the coming of the Rifts including some which the entire surface force they were protecting is believed to have been destroyed by the Rifts energies.

One of the Tigershark class, the U.S.S. Steelhead, reported to the U.S.S. Ticonderoga what happened with the missile battlecruiser Kearsarge. The U.S.S. Kearsarge is considered by some to have started the Rifts storms which engulfed the planet. The submarine had been acting as an outer picket for the battlecruiser. Several of the Tigershark class submarines that survived the Rifts remain in service with the New Navy. The New Navy has retained the vessels primarily for use in training although they are still commonly used to escort slower submarines including transport and cargo submarines. They are also often used to carry messages to their allies.

In its general design, the Tigershark class is similar in construction to the Virginia class submarine although it shares a number of features with the newer Swordfish class submarine as well. Many prototypes for systems later carried on the Swordfish class were first tested on the Tigershark class. As a result, the Tigershark class might be considered to be an intermediate design.

The Tigershark is cigar shaped like most previous submarine classes including the Virginia class. In comparison, the Swordfish class has a more teardrop shaped hull design. The sail of the Tigershark is completely different than that of the Virginia class and is tapered. The Swordfish class has a similar sail and the sail looks more like those carried on Russian designs than previous U.S. submarine designs

The Tigershark class was design with a fusion reactor instead of the fission reactor carried on the Virginia class. In fact, it was one of the first U.S. Navy designs to feature a fusion reactor. The reactor produces greater power than the fission reactor on the Virginia class, giving the Tigershark class a top speed of thirty-six knots. One other advantage of the new alloys and composites is that the Tigershark class is able to dive far deeper than previous designs.

In order to reduce machinery noise, the ducted pump jet gets power from the reactors through an electrical transmission system instead of geared turbines. The machinery is designed to be isolated from the hull of the boat. Other features of the Tigershark class, including an advanced sound absorbing rubber coating, are designed to further reduce the noise produced by the submarine.

The Tigershark class features a longer bow than the Virginia class and carries twenty-four cruise missile tubes behind the bow instead of the twelve on the Virginia class. As is normal for such launchers, they are located outside of the pressure hull. While the Tigershark class is fitted with four twenty-one inch torpedo tubes like the Virginia class, the newer class does have the ability to carry a greater number of torpedoes. Torpedo payload is increased from thirty-seven to forty-four torpedoes. In comparison, the Swordfish class was designed with both more missile launchers and torpedo tubes and has a vastly increased firepower.

The first U.S. submarine class to mount a blue-green laser, the Tigershark class is fitted with a single laser cannon in a retractable mount on the bow behind the missile launchers. One of the primary roles of the laser is defense against incoming torpedoes. In contrast, the Swordfish class mounts a pair of the same lasers. Other self defense measures against torpedoes include robot decoys and noise makes.

Over the years, sonar systems had gotten steadily more capable. At the time of the Tigershark class entering service, its sonar systems were considered among the most sensitive ever built. Of course, the sonar mounted on the Swordfish class build on the sonar of the Tigershark and was considered even more effective. Still, the sonar of the Tigershark was still considered capable even on the eve of the coming of Rifts.

Compared to the Virginia class, the Tigershark is designed to be able to be operated by a reduced crew, largely through additional automation. When first entering service, the crews of the power plant often spoke about how much easier the fusion reactors were to operate than the previous reactor designs. Even with a reduced crew, these boats were still quite cramped, especially when compared to surface ships.

In common with the Virginia class, the Tigershark was designed to carry a small number of assault forces, usually either Navy Seals or Marine Force Recon. As the Greyback class troop transport submarines began entering service, the Tigershark class were required to support assault forces far less often. Still, the Tigershark class might be called upon to perform the task on occasion.

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: SSN-888 Class.

Class: Ocean, Fast Attack Submarine.

Crew: 88 total; 8 officers, 8 chief petty officers, and 72 enlisted.

Troops: 24 (Special Forces.)

Robots, Power Armors, and Vehicles:


M.D.C. by Location:


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

100 each.


Vertical Cruise Missile Launchers (24, bow of submarine):

125 each.


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



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.


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

Underwater: 41.5 mph (36 knots /66.7 kph).

Maximum Depth: 5,000 feet (1,524 meters).

Range: Effectively Unlimited due to fusion engines (needs to refuel every 20 years and requires maintenance as well). Boat carries 6 months of supplies for crew and troops on board.

Statistical Data:

Height:  52.7 feet (16.1 meters) not including periscopes and antenna.

Width:   36 feet (11.0 meters).

Length:  390 feet (118.9 meters).

Displacement: 6,900 tons surfaced and 8,100 tons submerged.

Cargo: Submarine is very cramped, 12 tons (10.88 metric tons) of nonessential equipment and supplies (normally used for equipment for Marines / Navy Seals.) 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 Price: Not for sale; many nations and organizations would pay hundreds of millions of credits for a new and undamaged Tigershark class Submarine.

Weapon Systems:

  1. One (1) Retractable Blue Green Laser Cannon Mount: 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 also fire missiles (long or cruise) in special canisters and rocket boosted ASW torpedoes. Submarine carries forty-four reloads for torpedoes (in addition to four torpedoes in the tubes) and can carry up to eighty-eight mines in place of torpedoes.

    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 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 forty-four (44) additional heavy torpedoes for reloads.]

  3. Twenty-Four (24) Vertical Launch Cruise Missile Launchers (MK 45 VLS): In the front of the submarine but behind the sonar dome, the submarine has a vertical launch missile system for launching missiles. Launchers are outside of the pressure hull. Missiles are launched in special canisters that enable the missiles to be used in depths down to around 150 feet (45.7 meters.) Most missiles warheads normally carried are fusion as well as being smart missiles. The launchers were originally designed to carry BGM-109 Tomahawk anti-ship missiles but were modified to fire all standard cruise missiles.

    Maximum Effective Range: As per cruise missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Mega-Damage: As per cruise missile type (See revised bomb and missile tables for details.)

    Rate of Fire: Can fire cruise missiles one at a time or in volleys of two (2), four (4), six (6), or twelve (12) cruise missiles and can be fired at multiple target at the same time.

    Payload: Twenty-four (24) cruise 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. ]

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

Writeup by Kitsune (E-Mail Kitsune).

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