America’s Ohio class submarines are 170m-long Trident missile carriers that can operate roughly 240m below sea level and carry 140 crew members at sea for up to 70 days before returning to dock. The US Navy currently has 18 Ohio class submarines – four with cruise missiles and the rest with missile-propelled ballistic missiles.
France’s Triomphant, meanwhile, is slightly smaller at 138m in length. According to local media, the French navy last month sent two more of these submarines to sea, from their base at Ile Longue on the North Atlantic coast in response to the Ukraine invasion. It marked the first time the country has once three nuclear submarines since the end of the Cold War.
“The UK has a strong history of building very advanced nuclear submarines. The Royal Navy would say the specifications they put into their submarines gives them an advantage over the US fleet,” says Tusa.
“The Australians have also opted for a British design for their nuclear-powered submarines. There are a number of reasons they might have gone for a British design, but ultimately if the American one was head-and-shoulders above it, then they would have gone for that.”
As the threat heats up, eyes are on Russia’s capabilities and if Britain could defend itself in the breakout of nuclear war.
Moscow’s Borei class is the fourth generation of Russia’s nuclear-powered submarine fleet: 170m in length and able to carry 16 missiles, it has the ability to dive approximately 430m deep. Putin’s navy plans to deliver a total of ten Borei-class submarines by 2027 as part of the most extensive submarine program the country has embarked upon since 1991.
Tusa says: “In 2014, we thought the Russian army was superhuman. Now, I think we’re asking: really? Their performance has been catastrophic.
“Since the 1980s, each generation of Russian submarine has gotten better, but everyone I’ve spoken to in the Royal Navy says we’ve got the whip hand. 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 being boastful, and it’s not wishful thinking. They have long said no Russian attack submarine has ever been able to track one of our ballistic boats. They may have occasionally caught one on the sonar but they’ve never tracked it.”