US deploys nuclear submarine Ohio in the Middle East, what can it do

The SSGN can carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles which in turn can carry an explosive warhead of up to 1,000 pounds, approximately 450 kilos, each

A US guided-missile submarine is arriving in the Middle East. The US Central Command made this known on its social channels, to send a clear message to adversaries in the region. The image published in the margin of the post shows an Ohio-class submarine, or SSGN, in the Suez Canal northeast of Cairo.

The US military rarely announces the movements or operations of its submarine fleet, so the choice to announce the sending of the SSGN – whose name was not provided – appears as a clear message of deterrence aimed at Iran and its allies in the region. The submarine – the US Navy has four of the Ohio class – joins other US Navy assets already present in the area, including two aircraft carrier strike groups and an amphibious response group.

What are SSGNs

SSGNs are former ballistic missile submarines converted to fire Tomahawk cruise missiles rather than nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles. Each Ohio-class submarine can carry 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles, 50% more than guided-missile destroyers and nearly quadruple what the US Navy’s latest attack submarines are armed with. Each Tomahawk can carry an explosive warhead of up to 1,000 pounds, about 450 kilos.

“SSGNs can deliver a lot of firepower very quickly,” Carl Schuster, former director of operations at the Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center, told CNN in 2021. “One hundred and fifty-four Tomahawks are capable of delivering quite a few hits. No adversary of the United States can ignore the threat.” The extent of this firepower was demonstrated in March 2011, when the guided-missile submarine USS Florida fired nearly 100 Tomahawks at targets in Libya during Operation Odyssey Dawn. The attack marked the SSGN’s debut in combat.