Cruise missile submarine

USS Florida, a U.S. Navy Ohio-class submarine.

A cruise missile submarine is a submarine that can launch guided missiles. SSGN is the United States Navy hull classification symbol for a nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine. The SS denotes "Ship, Submersible" (i.e. submarine), the G denotes "guided missile," and the N denotes "nuclear powered". Non-nuclear boats were designated SSG. The Russian Federation and the U.S. are the only states that operate SSGNs currently.


U.S. Navy

The first SSGN in the U.S. Navy was USS Halibut (SSGN-587). She was built to launch the nuclear Regulus missile in the 1950s. When the Regulus program ended in 1964, she became SSN-587.

From 2002 to 2008 the U.S. Navy modified the four oldest Ohio-class Trident submarines to SSGN configuration. The conversion was achieved by installing vertical launching systems (VLS) in a configuration dubbed "multiple all-up-round canister (MAC)." This system was installed in 22 of the 24 missile tubes, replacing one large nuclear strategic ballistic missile with 7 smaller Tomahawk cruise missiles. The 2 remaining tubes were converted to lockout chambers (LOC) to be used by special forces personnel who can be carried on board. This gives each converted sub the capability to carry up to 154 Tomahawk missiles. The MAC tubes can also be used to carry and launch UAVs or UUVs which give the ship remote controlled "eyes & ears" allowing the ship to act as a forward-deployed command & control center. If the maximum of 154 Tomahawk missiles were loaded, one Ohio-class SSGN would carry an entire Battle Group's equivalent of cruise missiles. Despite the increase in stand-off strike capabilities, this conversion counts as an arms reduction against the START II treaty[1][2] because it reduces the number of nuclear weapons that are forward-deployed.

USS Ohio (SSGN-726) completed its conversion and began sea trials in early 2006. Since that time, USS Michigan (SSGN-727), USS Florida (SSGN-728), and the USS Georgia (SSGN-729) have rejoined the fleet in the new configuration. Florida conducted the initial testing required to determine whether the SSGN implementation was feasible. This included the first launching of a Tomahawk missile from the SSGN platform .[3]

In October 2010, the Navy announced that Ohio and Georgia would be among the first submarines to accommodate women.

The Florida launched cruise missiles against Libyan targets as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn in March 2011.

Russian/Soviet Navy

The Soviet Navy had a number of SSGN submarines armed with anti-ship missiles such as the SS-N-19 or land attack missiles. They were given the NATO reporting names Echo, Charlie, Papa and Oscar.[citation needed]

Today the Russian Navy operates 8-10 Oscar class submarines which carry the SS-N-19 long range anti-ship missile.

Royal Navy

The Royal Navy deploys Tomahawk missiles for land-attack on all its present fleet submarines (the Trafalgar and Astute classes), although these are multi-roled boats rather than having land attack as a primary role. Formerly, some submarines (e.g. of the Swiftsure class) also carried Sub-Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

See also

  • SSG
  • SSN
  • SSBN
  • List of NATO reporting names for guided missile submarines


External links

Wikimedia Foundation. 2010.

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