A cruise missile submarine is a submarine that can launch cruise missiles (SLCMs). The US Navy hull classification symbols for cruise missile submarines are SSG and SSGN - the SS denotes submarine, the G denotes guided missile, and the N denotes nuclear-powered. Early cruise missile submarines had to surface to launch their missiles. Later designs launch missiles from underwater, using either torpedo tubes or vertical canisters.
The U.S. Navy's first nuclear deterrent patrol submarines were five submarines equipped with the Regulus missile: USS Tunny (SSG-282), USS Barbero (SSG-317), USS Grayback (SSG-574), USS Growler (SSG-577) and USS Halibut (SSGN-587). Tunny and Barbero were modified World War II Gato-class submarines, while Grayback, Growler and Halibut were custom-made launch platforms. These ships were redesignated with the removal of the Regulus missile from service in 1964.
From 2002 to 2008 the U.S. Navy modified the four oldest Ohio-class submarines - USS Ohio, Michigan, Florida, and Georgia - into SSGNs. The conversion was achieved by installing vertical launching systems (VLS) in a "multiple all-up-round canister" (MAC) configuration in 22 of the 24 missile tubes, replacing one Trident missile with 7 smaller Tomahawk cruise missiles. The 2 remaining tubes were converted to lockout chambers for use by special forces personnel. This gave each converted sub the capability to carry up to 154 Tomahawks. The MAC tubes can also be used to carry and launch UAVs or UUVs. Despite the increase in stand-off strike capabilities, this conversion counts as an arms reduction against the START II treaty because it reduces the number of nuclear weapons that are forward-deployed. USS Florida launched cruise missiles against Libyan targets as part of Operation Odyssey Dawn in March 2011.
The Russian/Soviet Navy has operated the following classes of cruise missile submarine (these are NATO reporting names):
- Whiskey class (SSG)
- Juliett class (SSG)
- Echo class (SSGN)
- Papa class (SSGN)
- Charlie class (SSGN)
- Oscar class (SSGN) - these carry the SS-N-19 long range anti-ship missile
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.
- Ballistic missile submarine
- List of NATO reporting names for guided missile submarines
- Missile boat (surface ship)
- Transporter erector launcher (land vehicle)
- Congressional Research Service (18 July 2005). "Navy Trident Submarine Conversion (SSGN) Program:Background and Issues for Congress". http://www.history.navy.mil/library/online/trident_conversion.htm. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
- Ronald O'Rourke. "SSGN: A "Second Career" for the Boomer Force". http://www.navy.mil/navydata/cno/n87/usw/issue_6/ssgn.html. Retrieved 4 January 2009.
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