That terrible War we feared never came. America's leaders placed special
trust and confidence in the Submarine Force, who went to sea entrusted
with weapons of incredible destructive power, propelled by power plants of
unbelievable sophistication, armed for Armageddon, while charged with the
solemn responsibility of preventing it.
U.S. strategy during the Cold War relied on our ability to dominate the
seas. This strategy required naval forces capable of projecting power to
deter and prevent conflict, and when required, to fight and win. Undersea
superiority was a vital aspect of this strategy, and for this reason our
submarines were key elements of U.S. forces.
Throughout the Cold War, a cornerstone of national security was
deterrence. SSBNs were the preeminent and survivable leg of the strategic
triad that was instrumental in deterring global nuclear war for half a
century. Lurking in the ocean depth, anyplace around the globe, and
capable of retaliation to an enemy attack on America, SSBNs carried over
half of our nations strategic warheads at less than 20% of the total
Deterrence of war has been the sole mission for the SSBN since its
inception in 1960. It was on a November day in 1960 that the GEORGE
WASHINGTON left Charleston on that first patrol - at the height of the
Cold War. We were all on guard against a belligerent, nuclear-armed Soviet
Attack submarines, SSs and SSNs, deployed to every region of the world
during the Cold War, operating in the open ocean, in choke points and
narrow waterways, and under the arctic ice. The U.S. dearly dominated the
undersea environment and the Soviets knew it - such that the attack boats
were also a deterrent force.
Cold War submarines made over 3,500 strategic deterrent patrols and
uncounted surveillance and barrier patrols. In addition, during the major
campaigns in this war such as Korea and Vietnam, submarines made many
offensive, defensive, and special operations patrols.
Cold War Submarine Memorial