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

Important operating instructions & check-list:


When launching the sub, do this in shallow waters only! All though you can go sailing in both sea water, pools and fresh water lakes, I strongly recommend that you sail in fresh water only. Sea water and pools share a few characteristics that we don't like. First, you'd be amazed how much salt pool water contains, second, high frequency radio waves doesn't penetrate well in these waters, so it's generally a bad idea to go in. Also, do not sail in waters you do not know. Beware of underwater vegetation and other obstacles. Lakes often (Always?) has a lot of stuff on the bottom, and the very last thing you want is to get caught on something below. Check the depth before you sail if possible. You can never say that your sub will stay on the surface with 100% certainty... ships are ships. 

Notice that the water alarms only has one way of alerting you if water enters the WTC's, if the sub is in the surface: By blowing bubbles out the vent ports on the sides. Sailing with no air pressure at all eliminates this option! I therefore recommend to pump the air tank to some degree, even if you do not plan to dive.

The check list below should be completed prior to launch.

Pre-launch check list

  Sailing with air pressure: Sailing without air pressure / no air tank:
1 Check the water temperature. Minimum operating water temp: 50 *F (10 *C) 
As pressurized air absorbs heat when itís allowed to re-expand, the tubes just outside the tank is cooled. In order to prevent ice blocks forming inside the tubes caused by freezing moist in the air, do not operate the sub in water below this temperature. 
Skip this point.
2 Ensure that the "Valves operate / disable" switch is in the "Disable" position, and that both the manual air valves are closed. Ensure that the "Valves operate / disable" switch is in the 
"Disable" position, and that both the manual air valves are closed.
3 Position the sub in the water, tie it to the shore, and turn it on.
Position the sub in the water, tie it to the shore, and turn it on.
4 Make sure that the "Add air" valve is closed, then open the "Press. air" valve. If, for some reason, you want to go sailing without air pressure, keep the "Press. air" valve closed
(Both valves must be closed!)  Failure might lead to loss of sub!
5 Now throw the "Valves operate / disable" switch to the "Operate" position. Then leave the switch in the "Operate" position. Skip this point.
6 Visually check the rudder functions, and go back and forward.
Now dive and resurface the sub.
Visually check the rudder functions, and go back and forward.
Now verify that diving is not possible.
7 Test the bow thruster, expel all air. Test the bow thruster, expel all air.
8 Refit top section, and go... Refit top section, and go...


During operation, if the sub suddenly either refuses to dive, or makes an emergency surfacing, immediately return to port for service, and check the systems. Low battery status, low air pressure and / or the detection of water in either the electronics or the auxiliary compartment will cause this safety measure to activate. Any degree of dew on the inside of the WTC tubes are a sure sign that water has entered, and that you must discontinue operations, and remove the sub from the water at once. 


Turn off the sub, transport it, and then turn it on again in it's stand. Then blow the tanks to get the last ballast water out as well. 
If you're sure you won't be sailing within the next 10 minutes, spray the outside of the hull with de-mineralized water using a water sprayer normally used for plants at home. This prevents stains that are otherwise hard to remove later on. The de-mineralized water can be bought in any larger grocery store, or at the auto supplies store as "battery water" If, however, you end up getting the stains on your hull, remove them with vinegar.

When you return home after sailing your sub, remove the top section and pour plenty of tab water into the hull washing the insides. Connect a tube with a clean tab water supply to the pump intake, or use a bathtub. Then repeatedly (simulate) submerging and surfacing your sub in order to rinse the valves. Finally empty the pressure air tank, and leave this open if possible. The worst thing that can happen to your pressure tank is that it rusts due to moist in the pressurized air, leaving it open should almost fully prevent this. Finally recharge the batteries, as they are best stored fully charged. Now turn off the sub.

Webmaster: Robert Holsting