The U.S. Navy has built and operated exclusively nuclear-powered submarines for the past several decades. Nuclear power in many ways embodies the American spirit: bigger, stronger, faster, and more powerful than anyone else. However, it is time to challenge the need for those characteristics in submarines. Non-nuclear air-independent propulsion (AIP) submarines offer advantages over nuclear submarines, as seen in submarine development in countries such as Germany and Sweden. Conventional diesel-electric engines are a popular means of propulsion for non-nuclear boats, and there are several AIP options, but hydrogen-powered fuel cells offer more than any other option.
1. Sebastian Roblin, “Sweden’s Super Stealth Submarines Are So Lethal They ‘Sank’ a U.S. Aircraft Carrier,” The National Interest, 13 November 2016.
2. J. B. Lakeman and D. B. Browning, The Role of Fuel Cells in the Supply of Silent Power for Operations in Littoral Waters, QuinetiQ Centre for Marine Technology, Halsar (April 2004).