Ohio Class, Ballistic Missile Nuclear Powered Submarine, USS Kentucky SSBN737

The electronics, navigational lights:

I strongly suggest that 0,12” (3 mm.) Light Emitting Diodes (LED’s) are selected for this task. They are small, use almost no power, and have a nice and smooth shine. (And they are long lasting.) They need to be mounted so that no water can penetrate through to the wires, but do not glue them in using epoxy. Imagine that one is fried due to electrical malfunction, of similar accident and needs replacement… 

The lanterns consist of a red and a green light, and a white facing forward, fitted on the sail it self. The red goes on the left side (Port), and the green goes on the right (Starboard). Another white one is placed on top of the vertical rudder at the very back, indicating the 'end' of the sub when on. These white lights are visible in only certain angles on real subs, but in order to aid the orientation and the navigation of the sub during dark sailing conditions, I chose to disregard this fact on my sub. Please see the chapter on scratch building the hull for location of the lights in further detail. A book on navigational marks on submarines has indicated that all sub's have a amber flashing (2 Hz) top light, so this sub has one as well, located on the top of the sail. I have heard other people talking about different top lights, so please check so it'll fit your model. 

All the lights can go straight on to the main on / off switch because power consumption is so low, and this way give indication when the boat is turned on, but they might also go on to the electronics to be turned on and off by remote. I used a remote controlled mini switch to remotely control the lights.

System schematics:

The LM555 is a all-round timer chip, and the HEF4017B is a Johnson Counter. Please see data sheets for details.


The blink frequency is controlled by the 4,7uF capacitor. The reason why some LED's have a different resistors than others, are the fact that they need higher voltage to light up. The schematics above will flash the amber light, mo
rsing an "S". Each "on" is ˝ second long, the entire cycle takes 5 sec's.

The making:

Here's how my sub got lit up.

   As shown when building the upper aft rudder, the shaft is hollow, as well as part of the rudder. This allows an electrical cable to extend from the inside of the sub, up through the shaft, and to the off center white top light on the rudder.

   The white LED was sanded using high grade sanding paper. This ensures a multi-angled light (white).

   Notice the wires going into the rudder shaft, and running to the off center white top light. The wires do not run as tight as possible, because this is moving parts. The wires need to endure the flexing that will occur when the rudder is operated.

     The red, green, white and amber light that goes in the sail is made. The wires are soldered in place, and made water tight using resin and small heat shrink pieces. The amber is fitted within a small mast that will be fixed in a permanent slightly extended position.

   This is the port side of the completed sail.

   Here's the starboard side in early night conditions.

The amber light is blinking an "S", but I caught it to make the picture more dramatic.

   Sail is done. Lights are fitted, dive planes connected, and scopes fitted.

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