US Has Deployed Additional Submarines in the Area as Part of Its Offensive Capabilities: Former Israeli Naval Commander

‘The number of submarines that the United States has sent is at least double the number of carriers in the region,’ he said.
US Has Deployed Additional Submarines in the Area as Part of Its Offensive Capabilities: Former Israeli Naval Commander
In this handout photo provided by the U.S. Navy, the guided-missile submarine USS Michigan arrives in Busan, South Korea, on April 25, 2017. (USN Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jermaine Ralliford via Getty Images)

In recent days, it was reported that an American attack submarine with cruise missiles had arrived in the Middle East. To understand the significance of this move and the submarine’s objectives, we spoke with Brigadier General (Ret.) Yuval Tzur, former commander of the Israeli submarine fleet and deputy commander of the Navy.

The United States Central Command in the Middle East published a post on Oct. 5 on X, stating that an “Ohio-class” submarine had arrived in its area of responsibility. The post included a photo of the submarine passing under the Suez Canal Bridge at El Salam, located northeast of Cairo. The specific Ohio-class submarine that was deployed was not mentioned in the post, but it is believed to be the “Florida,” an Ohio-class SSGN.

“I’ve heard some reporters expressing concern about the fact that a nuclear submarine has arrived in the region. So, let’s set the record straight: all American submarines are nuclear”, Mr. Tzur clarified. “When we use the term ‘nuclear submarine,’ we are referring to the propulsion system being nuclear. The reason for nuclear propulsion is related to the fact that the United States is a global power and needs its submarines to be able to traverse oceans at very high speeds. In other words, the reason for nuclear-powered submarines is their high-speed capability to move from one area to another.”

Mr. Tzur explained that American Ohio-class submarines are divided into two types: those that are SSGN and those that are SSBN. “The ‘B’ in SSBN stands for ‘Ballistic,’ and it refers to the ballistic missiles these submarines can carry, which typically have nuclear warheads. On the other hand, SSGN submarines usually carry conventional weaponry, primarily cruise missiles.”

The Epoch Times: What is the difference between ballistic missiles and cruise missiles?

Mr. Tzur: “Cruise missiles generally travel at low subsonic speeds, taking about 2.5 hours to cover 1,500 kilometers (932 miles). ‘Cruise’ means that they are launched from under the water and fly at altitudes of 30 to 50 meters (100 to 165 feet) above the ground, making them challenging to detect. Most of the energy in cruise missiles is used for propulsion, enabling them to fly from point A to point B, and they do not carry very large warheads. In contrast, ballistic missiles are launched outside the atmosphere and re-enter it. So, if it takes a cruise missile 2.5 hours to cover 1,500 kilometers, a ballistic missile will take about 12–13 minutes.

“Ballistic missiles are the Trident missiles, and each of them can carry up to six warheads, with a yield of up to 400 kilotons, depending on the type of Trident missile. This means that one submarine can potentially target an entire country. American Tomahawk missiles, commonly carried by SSGN submarines, can carry warheads of up to 450 kilograms (992 lbs) and have a range of up to 2,500 kilometers (1,550 miles), reaching up to the eastern border of Iran. Each SSGN submarine can carry 154 Tomahawk missiles. ‘Florida’ [the presumed submarine in the region] is an SSGN, meaning it carries conventional weaponry.”

The Epoch Times: Do you believe that a submarine with Tomahawk missiles signifies more serious intentions than one with ballistic missiles?

Mr. Tzur: “Definitely. Nuclear submarines are primarily designed for ’show of force' and deterrence. There is no talk of nuclear concepts in this conflict because none of the countries threatening Israel currently possess nuclear weapons. SSBN submarines with ballistic missiles operate in places where they are hard to detect, certainly not in the Middle East. In contrast, SSGN submarines carrying conventional weapons, like Tomahawk missiles, definitely have specific targets.”

The Epoch Times: What are these targets?

Mr. Tzur: “In my estimation, it is Iran. Hezbollah is not the main concern here. I think if Iran crosses a certain threshold, there could be an American strike against it, with the missile’s targets potentially being command and control centers, communication centers, and specific facilities. I don’t know if the targets have already been loaded onto the missiles, but the American intelligence list has been incorporated into the systems. This means that once the United States decides to launch, the system will already be prepared to transfer the information to the missiles, and the submarine will be able to launch them toward the targets.”

The Epoch Times: Have American submarines been used in the Middle East before?

Mr. Tzur: “We’ve already seen the launch of Tomahawk missiles by American submarines during the Gulf War. In the opening phase of the war, the Americans launched missiles from submarines stationed in the Mediterranean, the Red Sea, and the Persian Gulf. This opening phase looks exactly like what we are witnessing now. We also saw American use of Tomahawk missiles in Operation Odyssey Dawn as part of the international military intervention in Libya in 2011.”

In addition to the Ohio-class submarine, the United States has also deployed two aircraft carriers to the Middle East since the beginning of this conflict. The first is the “USS Gerald R. Ford,” which arrived in the region in the early days of the conflict, and the second is the “USS Dwight D. Eisenhower,” which arrived a few days ago. These deployments are in addition to other American warships that have already been sent to the region, including the USS Carney, which assisted in intercepting missiles fired by the Houthis in Yemen towards Israel.

“Due to the fact that the United States has sent several aircraft carriers to the region, there is no doubt that additional submarines have been deployed as part of the offensive capabilities,” Mr. Tzur explained. “The reason is that each aircraft carrier has at least two submarines ahead of it, whose role is to provide warning in case of a threat and to protect the carrier. So the number of submarines that the United States has sent is at least double the number of carriers in the region.”

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