Worldwide Launch Capability

These submarines carry Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBMs), which are the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad because of the ability of their SSBN delivery platforms to “hide” in the ocean depths, coupled with the long range of the missiles. Continuously on patrol, SSBN Trident missiles provide a worldwide launch capability, with each patrol covering a target area of more than one million square miles.

Ensuring Survivability

The 2010 Nuclear Posture Review concluded that ensuring a survivable U.S. response force requires continuous at-sea deployments of SSBNs in both the Atlantic and Pacific oceans, as well as the ability to surge additional submarines in crisis. To support this requirement, the United States has 14 nuclear-capable Ohio-class SSBNs, of which 12 are operational at any one time, with the remaining two in long-term overhaul.

Trident Missiles

Each U.S. SSBN is capable of carrying up to 24 Trident missiles. SSBNs are deployed from the west coast of the United States in Bangor, Washington, and from the east coast in Kings Bay, Georgia. These SSBNs carry the Trident II missile.

Replacing Legacy Submarines

By 2020, these Ohio-class submarines will have been in service longer than any previous submarines. As a prudent hedge, the Navy will retain all 14 SSBNs for the near term. To maintain an at-sea presence for the long term, the United States must develop a follow-on to the Ohio-class submarine. Because of the long lead times associated with the development and deployment of a new submarine, the Secretary of Defense has directed the Navy to begin technology development of an SSBN replacement immediately.