Chief of Naval Operations
Submarine Warfare Division


Ballistic Missile Submarines

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Strategic deterrence has been the sole mission of the Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN) since its inception in 1960. Our ballistic missile submarine force is currently embodied in the Ohio class SSBN. Ohio class submarines carrying the Trident ballistic missile provide the sea-based "leg" of the Triad of U.S. strategic forces.

Strategic deterrence remains a fundamental element of the U.S. defense strategy, just as conventional deterrence has become increasingly important since the fall of the Berlin wall. Nuclear powered submarines will be the principal component of the future U.S. strategic posture. Land based bombers and intercontinental missiles are being reduced; by the late 1990s the land based strategic forces will consist of some 20 B-2 long-range bombers carrying stand-off attack missiles, each with only one warhead. The SSBN force will be the only Triad element still deploying missiles armed with Multiple Independently targeted Re-entry Vehicles.

At present, there are 18 Ballistic Missile submarines. The Atlantic SSBN Force numbers 10 submarines whereas 8 submarines are assigned to the Pacific SSBN Force.

trident d5 missile Each Ohio class SSBN is capable of carrying up to 24 long range Trident missiles with up to 8 warheads per missile. A review of SSBN warheads is being made by the United States as part of the reduction of strategic weapons directed by the President. Still, the overwhelming majority of U.S. Strategic weapons - the burden of future strategic nuclear deterrence will be squarely on the submarine force.

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