November 26, 2003


US ballistic missile submarines make up the third leg of our nuclear triad, along with our land-based missiles and long range bomber forces. The subs are nicknamed boomers, and go out for months at a time, sitting quietly in their assigned areas - just in case.

When it's time to fire a missile from underwater, a complex sequence of actions happens. One of the first things is that a 'gas generator' is set off in order to near-instantaneously create a large bubble that the missile 'rides' to the surface. Once the missile breaks the surface the motor fires and lifts the missile into the air, where it's guidance system takes over. This happens in split-seconds.

Just in case the motor misfires, the submarine leans off of vertical by a few degrees, so that a malfunctioning missile doesn't fall back and hit the submarine. trident.jpg

The crew that test fired this missile didn't wet themselves until later, when they saw this launch photograph.

Posted by: Ted at 06:20 AM | category: Military
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