How the US nuclear submarine fleet compares to Russia's.

Russia’s investment in nuclear submarines is causing concern among Western allies after the country’s submarines were deployed in the Atlantic off the US coast and near European NATO nations.

Putin has sought to expand Russia’s submarine capabilities, prompting growing fears among NATO countries and their allies. There have been comparisons between current submarine military spending and the Cold War era.

“We have indications that nuclear-powered submarines have been deployed off the coast of the United States and in the Mediterranean and elsewhere on the European periphery, in ways that mirror Soviet-style submarine deployments in the Cold War,” stated Michael Peterson, Director of the Institute for Maritime Studies.

The US Department of Defense classifies submarines as “vital” to national defense. The US arsenal currently consists of a fleet of ballistic missile submarines, guided missile submarines, and attack submarines. Nuclear-powered submarines, upon their launch in 1954, proved to be a “game changer,” according to the department.

In all, the United States has 64 submarines in its fleet, while Russia has about 58, according to the nonprofit Nuclear Threat Initiative.

The US Navy owns 14 ballistic missile submarines, or Ohio-class submarines, according to NTI data. They can operate for more than 15 years between reviews and are often deployed on extended deterrence patrols.

How the US nuclear submarine fleet compares to Russia's.
Los Angeles-class nuclear submarine during an exercise in the Pacific Ocean.

There are three classes of attack submarines in the US Navy, known as the Virginia, Seawolf, and Los Angeles.

The Ohio-class submarines are allowed to carry 20 submarine-launched ballistic missiles under the New START Treaty. But, in a speech to Russian attorneys last month, Putin stated that Moscow would withdraw from the START strategic weapons treaty.

According to the NTI, the Russian Navy “commands one of the largest submarine fleets in the world.” In recent years, Moscow has “substantially updated its submarine force” with 11 nuclear submarines capable of launching ballistic missiles and 17 nuclear attack submarines.

According to these data, Russia also has nine nuclear cruise missile submarines and 21 diesel-electric attack submarines.

How the US nuclear submarine fleet compares to Russia's.
Bolgorod nuclear submarine.

The chief of Russia’s United Shipbuilding Company said last month in official media that two new nuclear submarines would be delivered to the Russian Navy by the end of the year.

Russia’s nuclear submarine manufacturer Sevmash “has picked up a rhythm, due to which it now returns to provide one or two to the client nuclear submarines each year,” Alexei Rachmaninov, general director of the United Shipbuilding Corporation, said the Russian state news agency RIA Novosti.

“It was like that in 2021, in 2022. We hope it will be like that in 2023,” Rachmanov added. He said that the ships “Alexander III” and “Krasnoyarsk” will join the fleet by the end of the year, followed by the “Arkhangelsk” in 2024.

According to TASS, Russian President Vladimir Putin was present during the “Alexander III” launch on December 29. According to TASS, this submarine is the sixth Borei-A missile-carrying strategic nuclear-powered submarine in the Russian Navy, and it can carry 16 Bulava intercontinental ballistic missiles.

How the US nuclear submarine fleet compares to Russia's.

Last month, the Russian Navy withdrew from service its nuclear-powered strategic submarine “Dmitry Donskoy,” which could also carry Bulava missiles.

The sixth submarine, known as Generalissimo Suvorov, was transferred to Russia’s Northern Fleet in the Arctic in mid-January after being officially inducted into the Russian Navy in December 2022.

However, referring to Russia’s nuclear submarine production, the think tank Institute for the Study of Warfare said on March 1 that the Ukraine war had affected Russia’s future ability to plan long-term strategic objectives, including new nuclear-powered ships.