The Deadly Reason Why Nuclear Missile Submarines Are Called "Boomers"

Sebastien Roblin

Key Point: Boomers carry nuclear ballistic missiles that can travel vast distances to lay waste to enemy cities. They could kill millions and are the backbone of several countries' deterrence strategies.

Nine years after the atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Ishirō Honda’s Godzilla depicted a monster awakened from the depths of the ocean to wreak havoc on Japanese cities. A giant fire-breathing reptile, however, was less horrifying than what was to come. In less than a decade’s time, there would be dozens of real undersea beasts capable of destroying multiple cities at a time. I’m referring, of course, to ballistic-missile submarines, or “boomers” in U.S. Navy parlance.

The most deadly of the real-life kaiju prowling the oceans today are the fourteen Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines, which carry upwards of half of the United States’ nuclear arsenal onboard.

If you do the math, the Ohio-class boats may be the most destructive weapon system created by humankind. Each of the 170-meter-long vessels can carry twenty-four Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs) which can be fired from underwater to strike at targets more than seven thousand miles away depending on the load.

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