Ballistic missile submarine
A ballistic missile submarine is a submarine equipped to launch ballistic missiles (SLBMs). The world's first ballistic missile submarine was a Soviet converted Zulu class submarine equipped with a single ballistic missile launch tube in its sail. Today's ballistic missile submarines are larger than any other type of submarine, in order to accommodate SLBMs such as the Russian R-29 or the American Trident. Although some early models had to surface to launch their missiles, modern vessels typically launch while submerged at keel depths of usually less than 50 meters (164 feet).
Ballistic missile submarines differ in purpose from attack submarines and cruise missile submarines; while attack submarines specialise in combat with other naval vessels (including enemy submarines and merchant shipping), and cruise missile submarines are designed to attack large warships and tactical targets on land, the primary mission of the ballistic missile is nuclear deterrence. Accordingly, the mission profile of a ballistic missile submarine concentrates on remaining undetected, rather than aggressively pursuing other vessels. Ballistic missile submarines are designed for stealth, to avoid detection at all costs. They use many sound-reducing design features, such as anechoic tiles on their hull surfaces, carefully designed propulsion systems, and machinery mounted on vibration-damping mounts.
Ballistic missile submarines equipped with nuclear warheads serve as the third leg of the nuclear triad. The invisibility and mobility of submarines offer both a reliable means of deterrence against an attack (by maintaining the threat of a second strike), and a surprise first-strike capability - particularly given the range of the weapons they carry.
SSBN is the US Navy hull classification symbol for a nuclear-powered, ballistic missile-carrying submarine. The SS denotes "ship, submersible", the B denotes "ballistic missile," and the N denotes "nuclear powered."
In US naval slang, ballistic missile submarines are called boomers. In Britain, they are known as bombers. In both cases, submarines operate on a two-crew concept, with two complete crews including two captains, called Gold and Blue in US, Starboard and Port in UK.
The French Navy commissioned her first ballistic missile submarines as SNLE, for Sous-marin Nucléaire Lanceur d'Engin (lit. "nuclear-powered device-launching submarines"). The term applies both to ballistic missile submarines in general (for instance "British SNLE" occurs ) and, more technically, as a specific classification of the Redoutable class. The more recent Triomphant class is referred to as SNLE-NG (Nouvelle Génération, "New Generation"). The two crews used to maximise the availability time of the ships are called 'blue' and 'red' crews.
The Soviets called this type of ship RPKSN (lit. "Strategic Purpose Underwater Missile Cruiser"). This designation was applied to the Typhoon class. Another designation used was PLARB which translates as "Nuclear Submarine with Ballistic Missiles". This designation was applied to smaller submarines such as the Delta Class. After a peak in 1984 (following Able Archer 83), Russian SSBN deterrence patrols have declined to the point where there is less than one patrol per sub each year and at best one sub on patrol at any time. Hence the Russians do not use multiple crews per ship.
Active classes 
- People's Republic of China
- Typhoon class, but almost every sub in this class is decommissioned due to how expensive they are to maintain.
- United Kingdom
- United States
Classes under development 
Retired classes 
- Zulu class (diesel powered)
- Golf class (diesel powered)
- Hotel class
- Hotel II class
- Yankee class
- Yankee II class
- Delta I class
- Delta II class
- George Washington class
- Ethan Allen class
- Lafayette class
- James Madison class
- Benjamin Franklin class
- These five classes are collectively referred to as "41 for Freedom".
On 4 February 2009, the British HMS Vanguard (S28) and the French Le Triomphant collided in the Atlantic. Vanguard returned to Faslane in Scotland, under her own power, and Triomphant to Île Longue in Brittany.
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- РПКСН Ракетный подводный крейсер стратегического назначения (Raketny Podvodnyy Kreiser Strategicheskogo Naznacheniya)
- «ПЛАРБ» - подводная лодка атомная с баллистическими ракетами)
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- Deep impact
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- Video showing various SSBNs in action.
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