Our friends over at Naval Graphics came up with a pair of charts showing all the submarines based in Europe and Asia, including the type and quantity for each country. These are truly outstanding charts that can help us understand each country’s capabilities and the potential threats they face.
You can compare each country’s fleets to the U.S. Navy’s nuclear submarine fleet by checking out the graphic below, also courtesy of Naval Graphics.
With the U.S. Navy operating approximately 40 nuclear fast attack subs (SSN), and four nuclear guided missile submarines (SSGN), you can see how China still lacks greatly when it comes to nuclear fast attack submarines. Although this makes quite a bit of sense as they can provide a robust and affordable presence in the Asia-Pacific region using larger quantities of diesel submarines.
This also jibes with China’s area denial, anti-access strategy that does not require its attack submarines to execute extremely long-range patrols. Instead, the ballistic missile boats that can ‘disappear’ for long periods of time to provide a survivable nuclear deterrent are where China has invested heavily in nuclear propulsion. However, China’s four-boat strong SSBN fleet is much smaller than America’s 14-boat strong Ohio class SSBN fleet, at least for now.
All of this is changing though as China modernizes its military and sets its sights on territorial claims outside its immediate borders. More Type 094 SSBNs are being built, with a force of eight to ten rumored to be planned. China’s SSN fleet will also slowly expand in coming years.
Still, during a time of conflict, hunting down dozens of diesel submarines, many of them AIP capable, will be a major challenge for the US Navy’s mutli-role and already over-taxed fast attack submarine fleet.
You can also see that Russia’s submarine force remains formidable, with a heavier balance of it being based in in the Western Hemisphere. What is not shown is the readiness of the submarines pictured, which seems to be hit-or-miss when it comes to the Russian Navy.
Yet like all of Russia’s military apparatus, increased activity of their submarine force has troubled many countries Europe, with submarine hunts being a regular occurrence these days. In fact, one is occurring right now off the coast of Scotland.
Naval Graphics also has this handy silhouette comparison of the submarines of the world, a good guide for reference when referring to specific types:
Make sure to check out all our past graphical chart posts by clicking here.
Contact the author at Tyler@jalopnik.com.