Submarines- The Silent Killers

A Submarine is a naval warship which is capable of operating underwater and for carrying out maritime operations. Submarines can be effectively used in sinking enemy ships. They are quiet and hard to detect when they are underwater. Submarines were widely used during the First World War.

Akula-class submarine - Wikipedia
Russian Akula Class Nuclear Powered Attack Submarines. Picture Courtesy:

Today, submarines are an important part of the global navies. They are one of the most essential components of the modern navies. They are used for different purposes such as attacking enemy vessels, naval blockade, power projection, nuclear strike, reconnaissance, etc.

Submarine, Aircraft Carrier, Battleship
A US Virginia Class Fast Attack Submarine Escorting an Aircraft Carrier.

There are different types of submarines built for different purposes. They are:

  • Fast Attack submarines (Nuclear Powered or not)
  • Ballistic Missile strike capability submarines (Nuclear Powered or not)

Note: Ballistic Missile submarines in the world are mostly nuclear powered.

Countries like USA, France and UK operate only nuclear powered submarines. Countries like Russia, India, China maintain both Nuclear powered and diesel powered ones.

Submarine, Ship, Water, Ocean, Surface
A US Los Angeles Class Nuclear Powered Submarine


The main way through which a submarine can navigate is its SONAR system. SONAR (SOund NAvigation and Ranging) is a type of system in which a SONAR detecter releases some sound waves with the sound ‘ping’. These sound waves echo and reveal objects around the submarine. Fixed algorithm in SONAR receivers give away the depth, direction and distance of objects in the ocean and other enemy vessels.

But nowadays, spy torpedoes are being used in modern advanced submarines to get visuals underwater and on the surface. These can be sent from submarines to get visual information and can be brought back by pulling back the wire connected to submarine and the spy torpedo.

Armaments in Submarines:

There are many weapons in a modern submarine as compared to the ones used during WW1 and WW2 era. The only weapons a submarine had during the WW1 and WW2 era were the torpedoes and naval mines. Naval mines were present in only some special submarine called mine-laying submarines.

Today, submarines have a large arsenal for naval warfare. The modern submarine weapons arsenal include:

  • Guided Torpedoes/Acoustic Torpedoes– These torpedoes are fixed with sound sensors. They can guide themselves towards enemy ships by catching the sonar waves and other sound characteristics of enemy ships.
Submarine, Underwater Boat, Torpedo Tube, Torpedeo
Torpedo Tubes in a Submarine (Torpedo loaded in a tube at right below corner)
  • Naval Mines– Naval mines were in use from the second world war. Now, naval mines can be deployed by some special ones from their torpedo tubes. These Naval mines when come in contact with any naval vessel, explode and sink them.
  • Cruise Missiles– Submarine launched cruise missiles were first tested during the early mid-twentieth century by world superpowers like USA and Russia. These missiles can be fired directly by missile hatches when surfaced. Cruise missiles can also be fired underwater by them from the torpedo tubes. These cruise missiles destroy any targeted naval vessels. Only some countries like USA, Russia, Britain, France, China and India have submarine launched cruise missile technology.
  • Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles (SLBM)– Submarine Launched Ballistic Missiles are missile which are fired from the a submarine to destroy ground targets. SLBMs also have the capability to carry nuclear and thermo-nuclear warheads. These can only be fired from some special submarines called Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN). Only some countries like USA, Russia, Britain , France, China, India have this technology.
Submarines, Navy, Ohio Class submarine, Ship, Water, Ocean, torpedo tubes, Los Angeles Class Submarines, Virginia Class Submarines, Akula Class Submarines
A US Ohio Class Nuclear Ballistic Missile Submarine (SSBN)

They are a total of 503 submarines currently operational in the world by world navies. Out of these, 141 are nuclear powered and are maintained by only 6 countries like USA, Russia, UK, France, China and India.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *