How the Dreadnought nuclear submarine compares to its Russian rivals

The U.S. Ohio-class submarines are 170m-long Trident missile carriers that can operate about 240m below sea level and carry 140 crew at sea for up to 70 days before returning at dock. The US Navy currently has 18 Ohio-class submarines – four with cruise missiles and the rest with rocket-propelled ballistic missiles.

The French Triomphant, on the other hand, is slightly smaller at 138m in length. According to local media, the French navy last month sent two more such submarines to sea from their base at Ile Longue on the northern Atlantic coast in response to the Ukrainian invasion. It was the first time the country had deployed three nuclear submarines at once since the end of the Cold War.

“The UK has a long history of building very advanced nuclear submarines. The Royal Navy would say the specs they put in their submarines give them an advantage over the US fleet,” Tusa said.

“The Australians also opted for a British design for their nuclear-powered submarines. There are a number of reasons why they might have opted for a British design, but ultimately if the American was at above head and shoulders, so they would have gone for that.”

As the threat escalates, eyes turn to Russia’s capabilities and wonder if Britain could defend itself should a nuclear war break out.

Moscow’s Borei class is the fourth generation of Russia’s nuclear-powered submarine fleet: 170m long and capable of carrying 16 missiles, it has the ability to dive to around 430m depth. Putin’s navy plans to deliver a total of ten Borei-class submarines by 2027 in the largest submarine program the country has undertaken since 1991.

Tusa says, “In 2014, we thought the Russian military was superhuman. Now, I think we ask ourselves: really? Their performances were catastrophic.

“Since the 1980s, each generation of Russian submarines has improved, but everyone I’ve spoken to in the Royal Navy says we have the whip. Our boats are better, our crews are better, our sonars are better and our weapons are better.

He adds: “I don’t think they’re bragging, and that’s not wishful thinking. They’ve been saying for a long time that no Russian attack submarine has ever been able to track one of our ballistic boats. They may have caught one on sonar sometimes. But they never tracked it.”

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