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Trident Facts & Figures

What is the Trident submarine?

Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarine (known as an SSBN), nuclear-powered, able to remain submerged for long periods without surfacing, virtually undetectable when submerged

Length: 560 feet; Beam: 42 feet
Crew: 15 Officers, 140 Enlisted

What is its mission?

From the US Navy:
"Since the 1960s, strategic deterrence has been the SSBN's sole mission, providing the United States with its most survivable and enduring nuclear strike capability.

The Navy's ballistic missile submarines, often referred to as "boomers," serve as an undetectable launch platform for intercontinental missiles. They are designed specifically for stealth and the precise delivery of nuclear warheads."

Trident ballistic missile submarines provide the sea-based "leg" of the triad of U.S. strategic deterrent forces. Together, the Trident submarines carry approximately 50% of U.S. nuclear warheads.

How many US Navy Tridents are there?

14: 8 in Bangor, WA; 5 in King's Bay, GA; and 1 in Portsmouth, VA

Trident submarines spend an average of 77 days at sea at a time, followed by 35 days in port for maintenance.

Where is the Bangor base?

The submarine base at Bangor, WA, part of Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, is on Hood Canal north of Silverdale on the Kitsap Peninsula. Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor employs 12,825 active duty and 14,071 civilian people; it is the largest employer in north Kitsap County.

What sorts of weapons are on the Trident submarines?

Bangor-based submarines each carry up to 24 Trident II D-5 missiles, with a range of 4000 nautical miles. Each of the Trident II D-5 missiles holds up to 4 nuclear warheads. In total, each Trident warship can carry 96 hydrogen-bomb warheads.

Should the order come, the missiles are launched in a compressed air bubble, fly into space, steer in space using satellite navigation, then the warheads separate to drop onto different targets. Total flight time is 25 minutes or less, depending on how close the submarine is to the target.

The warheads weight 130,000 pounds (58,500 kilograms) each. Depending on the type of warhead, each one is 7-30 times the power of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945.

If Trident submarines visit Seattle for Seafair, do they have their nuclear weapons on board? US Navy policy is to neither confirm nor deny the presence of nuclear weapons on any of its vessels or stations.

What is the Trident "modernization" program?

In exchange for signing the New START Treaty with Russia in 2010, Congress demanded a full modernization programs for the U.S. nuclear weapons complex. Current SSBNs will be replaced with new SSBNx submarines. The first is expected to be completed in 2031, with 11 more slated to be produced by 2040.

In FY2014, Congress budgeted $1.1 Billion for SSBNx development. The cost of "modernizing" the Trident fleet over the next 10 years is estimated to top $45 Billion. The lifecycle cost of the new fleet of SSBNx's is estimated at $347 Billion.

Sources

Arms Control Association, "U.S. Nuclear Modernization Programs"

Congressional Budget Office, "Projected Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2014 to 2023"

Lockheed Martin, "Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile"

Naval-Technology.com, "Trident II D5 Fleet Ballistic Missile, United States of America"

U.S. Navy, "Fleet Ballistic Missile Submarines"

U.S. Navy, "Naval Base Kitsap"