A submarine is a type of warship designed to operate completely underwater for long periods of time. They are designed to submerge and surface, and to maneuver quietly underwater to avoid detection. Submarines can launch a variety of weapons including torpedoes, mines, antiship and land-attack cruise missiles, and submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) with nuclear warheads. Most modern submarines are powered by nuclear energy, though some rely on diesel engines and electric batteries for propulsion.
There are three major types of submarines, attack, ballistic, and guided missile. Attack submarines have tactical missions, including controlling naval and shipping activity, serving as cruise missile-launching platforms, and intelligence-gathering. Ballistic submarines have the single strategic mission of nuclear deterrence by being hidden launching-platforms for nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs). Guided missile submarines are designed to attack large warships and tactical targets on land.
Attack submarines are designed to seek and destroy enemy submarines and surface ships; project power ashore with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Special Operation Forces; carry out Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance (ISR) missions; support Carrier Strike Groups; and engage in mine warfare..
The attack submarine is designed for stealth and speed, and normally operates on its own rather than as part of a fleet. Like most submarines, it receives orders by way of encoded communications from satellites.
Ballistic Missile Submarines
Ballistic missile submarines are specially designed to carry and launch intercontinental nuclear-tipped missiles from vertical launching tubes. The primary mission of the ballistic missile is nuclear deterrence. Ballistic missile submarines are designed for stealth, to avoid detection at all costs, and the precision delivery of nuclear warheads. They are designed to operate with extreme quiet in deep ocean patrol and evade detection during their patrols, which last from a few weeks to as many as 70 days at sea, using many sound-reducing design features, such as anechoic tiles on their hull surfaces, carefully designed propulsion systems, and machinery mounted on vibration-damping mounts.
Guided Missile Submarines
Ohio class guided-missile submarines (SSGN) provide the Navy with an unprecedented combination of strike and special operation mission capability Each SSGN is capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk or Tactical Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles. The missiles are loaded in seven-shot Multiple-All-Up-Round Canisters (MACs) in 22 of 24 missile tubes. The Guided Missile Submarine is a key element of the Navy’s future fighting force. With its tremendous payload capacity, each SSGN will employ emerging technologies and bring a new set of mission and operational capabilities to the warfighter.