Submarine Warfare fulfills an integral role for the U.S. Navy. Submarines provide the United States with a nuclear arsenal, protect carrier battlegroups from surface and subsurface threats, and serve as excellent intelligence gathering platforms.
Submarine officers will be assigned to either an attack submarine (SSN) or a ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). Nuclear-trained officers fill most officer assignments on all nuclear submarines-- including engineering, weapons, operations and navigation duties. In addition to their qualification in nuclear propulsion, all submarine officers become submarine warfare specialists with the ultimate goal of commanding a nuclear submarine. The strategic mission of the sophisticated SSBNs is to help deter nuclear war. They are on constant patrol around the world armed with long-range nuclear missiles.
Attack submarines are smaller than ballistic missile submarines and do not, as a rule, stay at sea as long. The mission of these fast and silent SSNs include attacking enemy ships-- both surface and submarine and in supporting land-based campaigns.