U.S. Navy Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Tennessee and Royal Navy Vanguard-class nuclear submarine, both armed with Trident nuclear missiles, featured in a rare photoshoot in the North Atlantic.

A U.S. Navy image shows the submarines plus an American E6-B Mercury assigned to the ‘Shadows’ of Fleet Air Reconnaissance Squadron 4 and an MH60R Sea Hawk helicopter attached to the ‘Proud Warriors’ of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron 72.

The event was, say the U.S. Navy, designed to conduct bi-lateral at sea training “to validate tactics, techniques, and procedures which strengthen the relationship between uniquely close Allies in support of deterrence and collective security”.

According to a social media post by the U.S. Navy:

“The United States and the United Kingdom have a long-standing agreement of cooperation in the development and deployment of strategic weapons and supporting system.”

The Ohio class

An Ohio-class submarine is a type of nuclear-powered submarine that is used by the United States Navy. The Ohio class is the largest type of submarine in the US Navy, with a length of 170 metres and a displacement of over 18,000 tons. These submarines are equipped with a variety of advanced technologies and weapons systems, including ballistic missiles, cruise missiles, and torpedoes. They are designed for a wide range of missions, including strategic deterrence, special operations, and conventional warfare.

The Vanguard class

The Vanguard-class is the largest and most powerful of the Royal Navy’s nuclear submarines. Each submarine is 170 metres long and can carry up to 16 Trident II missiles, which are capable of delivering nuclear warheads with pinpoint accuracy over long distances.

The British and American nuclear relationship

The United Kingdom and the United States have a long history of collaboration when it comes to nuclear missile submarines. Both countries possess advanced nuclear technology and have worked together in the past to share knowledge and resources in order to develop their respective nuclear deterrents.

One key example of technology sharing between the UK and the US is the Trident missile system. This system is used by both countries to arm their nuclear missile submarines and was developed through a joint collaboration between the two nations. The UK purchased the missiles from the US and also benefited from American expertise and technology in order to integrate the system into their own submarines.

Additionally, the UK and the US have also cooperated on the development of new submarine technologies. For instance, the UK’s newest class of nuclear missile submarine, the Dreadnought class, is designed to be more advanced and stealthy than previous generations of submarines. It incorporates many of the latest technological advances in submarine design, some of which were developed in partnership with the US.

Overall, the relationship between the UK and the US when it comes to nuclear missile submarines is one of collaboration and technology sharing. Both countries have a strong interest in maintaining a strong nuclear deterrent and have therefore worked together in order to develop and improve their respective submarine fleets. By sharing technology and expertise, the UK and the US are able to build more advanced and effective submarines, which in turn helps to ensure the security of both nations.

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George has a degree in Cyber Security from Glasgow Caledonian University and has a keen interest in naval and cyber security matters and has appeared on national radio and television to discuss current events. He also previously worked for the NHS. George is on Twitter at @geoallison
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Geoff Roach
Geoff Roach
11 months ago

Point well made and not just because the two boomers are seen together. A real show of solidarity between two leading democracies, and perhaps by extension, the Australians as well.

TenTribesOfTexas
TenTribesOfTexas
11 months ago
Reply to  Geoff Roach

How is the UK a democracy? MPs in its Upper House – the House of Lords- are not elected but appointed by an unelected head of state. Thats not democratic.

Richard
Richard
9 months ago

With a modicum of humility you’d perhaps acknowledge the influence of the NRA on US policy and accept that the Lords largely advises from experience, proposes amendments and can be overruled by the elected Commons, which is sovereign. A little learning is a dangerous thing.

Cedric Brown
Cedric Brown
7 months ago

Oh dear, you have neglected your research. The term “MP” is only ever used for members of the House of Commons. The vast majority of members of the House of Lords (~680 out of ~770) are nominated by the political parties as “working peers”; there are a maximum of 90 elected hereditary peers, around 30 bishops and a small number of officers of state (Earl Marshal, Lord Great Chamberlain etc). If you want to talk about democracy, you should question whether an elected and active head of state can ever properly exercise separation of powers – appointing Supreme Court Justices… Read more »

David Barry
David Barry
11 months ago

Would you really use a boomer to conduct SF opps?

Their SSGN conversions, I can imagine, but, not an SSBN, seriously?

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
11 months ago
Reply to  David Barry

I don’t think that is what happens in the real world. As the 4 oldest Ohio’s are converted to SSGNs when people are discussing capabilities about the class they mention both roles of the subs. The cruise missile versions do operate special operations teams but they have a very different role to an SSBN.

Last edited 11 months ago by Monkey spanker
Esteban
Esteban
11 months ago

So who is the person living underneath the rock that does not know that the SSBNs at least the US ones have been operational since the Kennedy administration…. Maybe your standard kid but certainly no one in any sort of decision making position in any country. Not sure what the point of this exercise was. Like most of the other ones were US submarines magically keep poking up around the UK and Gibraltar. They have better things to do. Let them do them.

Jacko
Jacko
11 months ago
Reply to  Esteban

It’s really a pity you haven’t got better things to do!

Esteban
Esteban
11 months ago
Reply to  Jacko

I do… And that’s why reading drivel like this is annoying. The US Navy has been on the job since the early ’60s and the Royal Navy since the late ’60s. Every single freaking day of every year 24 hours a day…

Jacko
Jacko
11 months ago
Reply to  Esteban

Don’t log on then Your problem solved!

Graham
Graham
11 months ago
Reply to  Esteban

The whole point of the exercise was to demonstrate the collaboration between nuclear armed NATO nations, not to let the public know that SSBNs exist.

Andrew
Andrew
11 months ago
Reply to  Esteban

Tis nothing more than a gentle reminder that the West has a nuclear capability…. Unlike Putin, we don’t need to be constantly threatening countries we have invaded that we are going to nuke them…

geoff
geoff
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Exactly Andrew and in addition agreat photo

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
11 months ago
Reply to  Andrew

Hmmm…yes, believe we have abandoned virtually all pretense of subtlety; next exercise perhaps surfacing w/in Northern Fleet’s MOB harbor? 🤔😳😉

Posse Comitatus
Posse Comitatus
11 months ago
Reply to  Esteban

” Not sure what the point of this exercise was,”

Perhaps you should ask the US Department of Defence. Nato partners exercise together regularly.

You sound as thick as a nuns bush.

Graham
Graham
11 months ago

Why is the RN submarine not named in the photo and article?

Last edited 11 months ago by Graham
Gavin Gordon
Gavin Gordon
11 months ago
Reply to  Graham

UK MoD do not promulgate the names.

arcad78
arcad78
11 months ago

Britain subs need tactical nuclear weapon. Tomahawk TSLCM – good decision.

Jim
Jim
11 months ago

The Ohios are starting to look a bit dated with the fin mounted planes.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Good thing there replacement is coming along nicely. The Ohio still do the job very well

Jim
Jim
11 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Yes Columbia class looks significantly better although still has those fin mounted planes. It’s easy to forget with the Ohios that they were ordered and began construction in the early 70’s. They are only 10 years newer than our resolution class SSBN’s and they will probably stay in service longer than our Vanguard Submarines.

They are missing many of the adaptations of more modern SSN’s and SSBN’s like the vanguards with pump jet propulsion, Anechoic tiles and acoustic reduction shaping but they were obviously built to a very high standard for the time in the 70’s.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim

The us navy must like it’s fin mounted planes if it’s keeping them for Columbia. The Ohio’s are getting every bit of life squeezed out of them. The next SSN designs will be interesting to see what changes are being made.

Michael
Michael
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Absolutely. The Ohios have proven to be good value boats, though I would suggest their relatively high numbers have given them some more leeway in the longevity department. It would be fantastic if we could keep the Vanguards in service another 10-15 years and convert them to SSGNs as Dreadnoughts come online, but sadly all four of them have been at sea much more intensively than the Ohios to maintain CASD. They’re thoroughly worn out.

One of the limitations of having less mass in the fleet

rob1
rob1
11 months ago
Reply to  Jim

Who cares how they look? Its the job they that is most important IMHO.

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
11 months ago

If there is one issue I have with the vanguard boats it’s the amount of missiles they carry. I would think at least 12+ tubes should be filled all the time. 8 just seems to little even with multiple war heads. Spread the warheads across more missiles with more decoys would be better in my opinion

Bob
Bob
11 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Is it a consequence of treaties and verification?

Monkey spanker
Monkey spanker
11 months ago
Reply to  Bob

Don’t think so. It may have been a good will gesture, less targets but all that went out the window with Russia’s actions.

Steve R
Steve R
11 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

How do you know they only have 8 missiles loaded?

Even if that’s their standard peacetime load I wouldn’t be surprised if the next boat to sail has more loaded. Of course they’d never tell us.

Fender
Fender
11 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

I think eight is plenty. How many do you need to doom the world?

Steve R
Steve R
11 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

How do you know it’s just 8 missiles?

Andrew Peter Smith
Andrew Peter Smith
11 months ago
Reply to  Monkey spanker

Its a deterent. Only a few getting through is more than enough.

HF
HF
11 months ago

Overstating the part of the UK in Trident development, tbh. Technically, while the UK has ‘purchased’ the system and paid a considerable sum towards development costs it hasn’t purchased any missiles, which are ‘leased’ and exchanged for others at the USN facility at Kings Bay when maintenance is due. This means that while operationally independent the UK deterrent would cease to be functional with 18 months to 2 years of a withdrawl of US co-operation. All side issues, of course, alongside the actual event. I wonder how often this has happened before ?

HF
HF
11 months ago
Reply to  HF

It’s beyond me why the Thatcher Government even opted for such a set up of leased missiles’. One word, money.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
11 months ago
Reply to  HF

The point being that we do have the native tech to do it ourselves if we wished to. So the threat of withdrawal of cooperation would be quite hollow.

Warhead we already do.

The upper parts of the missile we already do.

Really it is the ejection system and the first stage booster that would be the most difficult part and we well understand how those work, from baking them into two submarine classes.

Missile development is not as expensive, in relative terms, as it used to be for a whole range of good reasons.

Expat
Expat
11 months ago

We could just borrow Branson tech and but some old 747’s and air launch. Not perfect but we could find an alternative or stop gap so correct it would be ineffective to withdraw from the agreement.

Bob
Bob
11 months ago

Given the likelihood of the US pulling the plug, is it worth the expense?

Michael
Michael
11 months ago

I wonder if political support would be forthcoming for that kind of project. I remember Twitter imploding when the vote for Dreadnought was passed. If we set about developing a whole new generation of missiles it would signal that disarmament is not going to happen in the average left-wing student’s lifetime. There would be some serious opposition

Cedric Brown
Cedric Brown
7 months ago
Reply to  Michael

Presumably the serious opposition is in addition to the left-wing students.

Jim
Jim
11 months ago

Yes it is not rockets science (pardon the pun), especially now. But your probably still looking at a decade or more to get something in to service. international treaties rarely mean squat to the US Congress and it’s always open to the manipulation of just a few. It’s happened to us before every chance it will happen again.

Last edited 11 months ago by Jim
Michael
Michael
11 months ago

Reading about M51, development was €5 billion, following which the French placed an order worth €3 billion. That works out at a substantial amount of money by anyone’s measure, though only a fraction of the Dreadnought programme. It might indeed be worthwhile, considering the increasing unreliability of our ally across the water

rob1
rob1
11 months ago

Who’s to say this isn’t already happening….

Andrew Peter Smith
Andrew Peter Smith
11 months ago

The ejection system… the bubble .. was developed in the UK. The tech exchange was never all one way

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
11 months ago

Very true – I should have remembered that…..ooooopppphs!

James
James
11 months ago
Reply to  HF

Whats changed in the 40 years it has been happening to make it suddenly unacceptable?

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
11 months ago
Reply to  HF

Ahem…folks, perhaps a larger perspective might be in order..there is no rational scenario or set of circumstances wherein the US government will voluntarily seek to reduce the allied nuclear weapons warhead count when ChiComs are assessed to be on glide slope to quadruple their own stockpile by 2035. No way, no how. Ain’t gonna happen. Guaranteed. Period.

That does not mean that some future UK government may not choose to unilaterally disarm for cost or political reasons. That, in my opinion is a significantly more probable scenario. 🤔😳

HF
HF
11 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Not sure if this was an answer to me but re the second paragraph the maxim in UK political circles is that the UK will never unilaterally disarm because itr wouldn’t look right if France was the only European nation with nuclear weapons.

FormerUSAF
FormerUSAF
11 months ago
Reply to  HF

Keeping up w/ the continental relations?🤔😳🤣😂😁 Have to admit, never encountered that rationale before! 😂😂😂

HF
HF
11 months ago
Reply to  FormerUSAF

Well, it’s only half a joke…

DanielMorgan
DanielMorgan
11 months ago
Reply to  HF

I just spit out my coffee. A Brit finds the US political system increasingly erratic? Let’s see – four Prime Ministers from the same party in six years starting with an incompetent, followed by a lying clown, followed by a total incompetent, followed by an MP who held a US green card; accompanied by a total fruitcake in charge of Scotland and a non- functioning government in Northern Ireland. And you might try reading the US Constitution. One senator cannot pass a resolution and even if he/she could it has no legal force. And, nobody in the US wants Bermuda,… Read more »

Cedric Brown
Cedric Brown
7 months ago
Reply to  DanielMorgan

The Prime Ministers are not the system, they just inhabit it, use it and abuse it. You might like to think about how well the system actually works – when the Tory party came to its senses and realised that Truss did not have the support (let alone the ability) to run a government, it was able to remove her from office very rapidly.
The “erratic” referred to POTUS. Are the last two incumbents the best you could find, are they really the way that you wish to manage yourself and represent yourself to your international colleagues ?

Celtic 1888
Celtic 1888
11 months ago
Reply to  HF

Well we will have to build something soon as the Russian navy has just taken control off its newest submarine the biggest in the world apparently old boy eny ideas 💡

Graham Moore
Graham Moore
11 months ago
Reply to  HF

Did we not lease missiles in the Polaris era, well before Thatcher.

william james crawford
william james crawford
11 months ago

Pity only half the missile tubes have missiles in them……

Robert Blay
Robert Blay
11 months ago

And why do you think that’s a pity? We are taking about nuclear weapons, not a few anti ship missiles.

Supportive Bloke
Supportive Bloke
11 months ago
Reply to  Robert Blay

That is the rational thought process.

But, we are not dealing with totally rational actors here?

If there is a calculation of being able to get away with it and emerge mangled but ok then it is a worry.

Most megalomaniacs only care about their own survival anyway.

I’d say based on Ukrainian experience that trident will 100x better than the Russian system.

Steve R
Steve R
11 months ago

How do you know that’s the case?

Andrew Peter Smith
Andrew Peter Smith
11 months ago

Why! It only needs one warhead getting to its target for mission success. Its a deterent remeber

william james crawford
william james crawford
11 months ago

I don’t agree with you Andrew. If push comes to shove as the Ukrainian war spreads, it would be very useful to be able to target 16 (or whatever) rather than 8 (or whatever) strategic and tactical targets across Russia simultaneously. It might be the difference between winning or losing. And if this is not so, it follows that the whole system is unusable in any circumstance, and therefore absolutely without function and valueless.

Andrew Peter Smith
Andrew Peter Smith
11 months ago

It’s a deterent! There is no winning in a nuclear exchange. Call the strategic or tactical or anything you want, it just ends up with millions dead immediately and from radiation poisoning. You only just realised that its not a viable weapon?! It’s a deterent not a weapon

william james crawford
william james crawford
11 months ago

if it is not useable in any circumstance, then plainly it will not deter….

Andrew Peter Smith
Andrew Peter Smith
11 months ago

It’s called mutual assured destruction. MAD. I know the logic is hard to get your head around. The logic cant be proven. Is Putin desperate enough to think its a way out for him

Cedric Brown
Cedric Brown
7 months ago

There is one scenario that scares many s**tless. If Putin is as ill as some people claim, he might decide to go out with a bang, like so many perpetrators of mass shootings.

Patrick
Patrick
11 months ago

Definitely sending a message having the E6 mercury there, can’t say I remember seeing a photo op like that. The Mercurys are used to communicate launch codes/orders to the Ohio class, would be interesting to know if Mercurys have RN staff onboard to communicate with the Vanguard? I’m assuming they use the same launch control systems since they share missiles. All classified I’m sure but seeing all 3 in the same picture makes you wonder! I remember reading the UKs plan for MAD was basically the subs coming home and realizing their assets are destroyed and then opening a letter… Read more »

Cedric Brown
Cedric Brown
7 months ago
Reply to  Patrick

There is a list of conditions which must be met before the captain of a Trident sub may launch his missiles. There may or may not be conditions which allow the captain to launch without orders from higher authority; all other conditions work only if the relevant people have time to get to the big red button.

Alex
Alex
11 months ago

Not sure what kind of messages they are going to send from North Atlantic. Russia has good “Satan” answering messaging system. May drop one on London, and one on DC. Then Anglo-Saxons and Russians will be the best friends over. Like Japanise and Americans got together once after 1945.

Cedric Brown
Cedric Brown
7 months ago
Reply to  Alex

The Satan missile is about as real as Satan Claus.

Ian
Ian
11 months ago

What a great picture! I wonder how they communicate without an enemy intercepting it.

Cedric Brown
Cedric Brown
7 months ago
Reply to  Ian

Polari, or perhaps Polaris.

James
James
11 months ago

uk government should take Thier nuclear weapons off Scottish shore’s and place them in England we don’t want them.

Cedric Brown
Cedric Brown
7 months ago
Reply to  James

We would like nothing better than to turn you loose. We would be much better off in just about every conceivable way.