Fears erupt as US sends nuclear sub to Middle East in major show of force

Ohio-Class submarine

Fears erupt as US sends nuclear sub to Middle East in major show of force

Oliver Trapnell

By Oliver Trapnell

Published: 06/11/2023

- 21:14

Analysts have suggested the move could be seen as a warning to Iran

The US Navy has placed a nuclear submarine in the Middle East in a seeming show of force against Iran, the US Central Command (Centcom) has announced.

According to Centcom, which is responsible for a huge area reaching from the Horn of Africa to Central Asia, one of the US’s most powerful naval assets - an Ohio-class submarine - has been deployed to the region.

In a rare statement announcing the location of one of its submarines, Centcom said a nuclear submarine had been deployed but held off on giving more details.

“On November 5, 2023, an Ohio-class submarine arrived in the US Central Command area of responsibility,” wrote on social media.

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Ohio-class submarines are nuclear-powered and nuclear missile-capable.

Centcom did not reveal the name or type of Ohio-class submarine that had been deployed.

The presence of the sub comes amid surging tensions in the Middle East following the terrorist attack by Hamas on Israel on October 7.

Continued strikes on Gaza have threatened to plunge the entire region into war as Syria and Lebanese forces have also fired rockets towards Israel.


The world\u2019s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford arrives at Mediterranean Sea.

The world’s largest aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford arrives at Mediterranean Sea.


Analysts have suggested that the presence of the nuclear submarine in the region could act as a warning to Iran, falling in line with Centcom’s goals of deterring the Iranian regime.

According to the Centcom website, the priorities of the Naval command group are to “deter Iran and its proxies from continuing malign activities that destabilize not only the region, but global security and commerce”.

Intelligence gathering group Counter Terrorism & Security Intelligence said the move marks the “clearest message to Iran, the axis of terrorism in Middle East, that Washington is prepared to confront the threat the Persians & the Ayatollahs pose to global security”.

The Law Discoveries Authority added: “The arrival of an Ohio-class submarine in the US Central Command area of responsibility is a strategic move that carries significant implications under international law, particularly the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea (Unclos).

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“Ohio-class submarines, often equipped with a fleet of ballistic missiles, are a central component of the United States' naval capabilities and serve as a deterrent in international waters.”

Ohio-class subs are the latest ever built for the US Navy and are split into two types, ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) and cruise missile submarines (SSGNs).

SSBNs are capable of carrying 20 Trident missiles tipped with nuclear warheads.

The US is believed to have at least 14 ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) which can carry the Trident missiles.

These 14 vessels are believed to carry about half of the US’s thermonuclear warheads.

There are thought to be just four SSGNs which carry out conventional strikes and can hold up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles as well as Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

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