Nuclear Submarines: America's New Aircraft Carriers?

April 7, 2015 Topic: Security

Nuclear Submarines: America's New Aircraft Carriers?

"Nuclear-powered guided missile submarines could be the key to maintaining America’s future naval supremacy."

Hendrix acknowledges the concern of U.S. allies who say that submarines just do not provide the same reassurance as a visible American presence. “I’ve been told that to my face by foreign governments, that submarines don’t carry that visible sense that the Americans are there,” he said. As such, Hendrix said he agrees that the U.S. Navy needs a better high-low mix of capabilities. That would mean that the service should consider buying more frigates and lower-end destroyers. “You need a visible presence,” Hendrix said.

Hendrix said that while some might argue that perhaps a smaller U.S. vessel might not be a particularly threatening/effective deterrent, if a potential adversary were to harass such a ship there are ways for submarines to make it known that they are in the area lurking unseen. Moreover, a vessel like an SSGN—where an astute enemy might have an inkling that something is hiding beneath the waves—can cause a potential enemy to be worried when they are not sure exactly where it is and thereby act as a deterrent. “What makes people worry about them is what they don’t know,” Hendrix said.

Dave Majumdar has been covering defense since 2004. He currently writes for the U.S. Naval Institute, Aviation Week and The Daily Beast, among others. Majumdar previously covered national security issues at Flight International, Defense News and C4ISR Journal. Majumdar studied Strategic Studies at the University of Calgary and is a student of naval history.

Image: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class M. Jeremie Yoder