MARK 48 vs MARK 37
The Mark 48 torpedo is the standard for all U.S. submarines.
First entering service in 1971, it uses a new “pump-jet” engine rather than conventional propellers. It has a four time range and a twice speed of its predecessor, the Mark 37 of the 1960s.
HORIZONTAL LAUNCH TUBES
The horizontal launch tubes (Launch Tubes) are normally used to launch torpedoes. They can however also be adopted for other weapons such as Harpoon missiles.
The diameter of the torpedoes varies depending on the nationality. The most common are 533 mm and 650 mm. The torpedo is the most common and versatile weapon that a submarine is provided with. It is constituted by a variable speed motor in the rear, by a series of batteries in the central part, from the warhead (tapered towards the rear so as to concentrate most of the energy explosive towards the bow at the moment of impact) and by acoustic head (active or passive), able to identify and follow the target along the path, unless of course of possible countermeasures.
VERTICAL LAUNCH TUBES
The vertical launch tubes have become increasingly common in submarines, with the worsening of the nuclear threat during the Cold War. In fact, they were designed primarily for the use of nuclear ballistic missiles, such as Polaris, Poseidon and Trident. Their capacity, however, went enriched over the years. Today, in fact, the Vertical Launch System allows you to host and launch ballistic missiles, anti-ship missiles (eg: Harpoon), cruise missiles (such as the Tomahawk) and so on.
The VLS remains the greatest threat that a submarine can own: in a hypothetical as tragic military-political framework of the future, one SSBN would be able at any time, in any place and possibly without anyone noticing before the impact, to destroy dozens of entire cities at the same time!