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SSBN: The defenders of peace


"Submarines carrying nuclear-armed ballistic missiles present a credible deterrent. Because of the submarine's stealth, most of the world's military forces have a great difficulty locating or destroying a quiet submarine."
Admiral H.G. Chiles
Former Commander in Chief,
U.S. Strategic Command

Stealth. The key to the success of the "boomer" navy has been their quiet design. The mission of the SSBN is very much different than the SSN. Those who serve on SSBNs preserve world peace by remaining undetected. Operating quietly in patrol areas the size of the south-east United States it is indeed like looking for a needle in a haystack.

SSBNs operate with two crews, the Blue and the Gold. Each crew is either in a 'on-crew' or 'off-crew' status. Those who are 'on-crew' operate the submarine for a period of about 3 months. This period consists of two phases, refit and patrol. During refit the ship undergoes a highly complicated inport period where every piece of equipment is checked out and repaired and upgraded as necessary. This period usually lasts about 25 days. The conclusion of refit culminates when the submarine undergoes an extensive at-sea period call REFTRA or Refresher Training. During REFTRA the sub does a second operational check of all equipment to ensure 100% operability prior to patrol.  Following refit the ship then departs on patrol. During patrol, the submarine may have several missions, the most important: remain UNDETECTED. The superior design of the Trident SSBN provides an extremely quiet platform to accomplish this mission. In addition, Trident SSBN are capable of performing many of the same missions of SSNs. These include Anti-Submarine Warfare, Anti-Surface Warfare, Special Operations, and operations with Carrier Battle Groups.

As more Tridents come on line along with current arms limitation, SSBN have continued to play the for of SSN. In addition, port calls for SSBNs, which in the past were a rare item, have continued to grow.

The U.S. Navy currently employs only the OHIO class SSBN. There are currently 18 Tridents in operation today with the USS LOUISIANA being the latest sister ship, commissioned in 1997. SSBN operate in only two U.S. port, Kings Bay, GA and Bremerton, WA.


Click here for a video shot of a Trident Missile Launch.(1,185KB .avi file)

- This page last updated 10/22/2003 -

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