SSN vs SSBN: Difference and Comparison

The attack submarines SSN and SSBN are similar. The design and principal purposes of the two are what differentiates them.


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Submarines are thought to be a dependable source of power. It’s because they’re well-known for their destructive abilities. 

Nuclear submarines are at the top of the list of weaponry for countries wishing to beef up their defence in the event of a threat.

Nuclear reactors supply electricity for the SSN and SSBN. A quick attack submarine is how the SSN is referred to.

Key Takeaways

  1. SSN refers to nuclear-powered attack submarines designed for various missions, including anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare, while SSBNs are nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines intended for strategic deterrence.
  2. SSBNs carry long-range nuclear missiles and prioritize stealth and survivability, whereas SSNs focus on versatility and multi-mission capabilities.
  3. SSBNs play a critical role in maintaining nuclear deterrence and strategic stability, while SSNs contribute to naval dominance and support various maritime operations.


SSN stands for nuclear-powered attack submarine. These submarines are designed for various missions, including anti-submarine warfare and reconnaissance. SSBN stands for nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine. These submarines are designed to carry intercontinental ballistic missiles.

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The SSN class of submarines is built to actively hunt and destroy enemy ships, submarines, and other targets. These vessels are equipped with advanced sensors, weaponry, and weapon-delivery systems.

The primary mission of the SSN is to seek and destroy enemy subs before they can launch an attack against friendly naval forces or merchant ships.

In addition, the SSN can carry cruise missiles for use against land targets, or it can be used to launch uncrewed vehicles (such as underwater drones) for intelligence-gathering operations.

SSBN stands for Submersible Ship Ballistic Missile Nuclear. SSBN submarine’s primary goal is to protect a nuclear force’s second-strike capability by providing a safe, covert place from which ballistic missiles can be fired if necessary.

They are trained to fight other naval vessels, such as hostile submarines and merchant ships. They can also be used to strike massive plates and land-based tactical objectives.

Comparison Table

Parameters of ComparisonSSNSSBN
Stands forThe acronym SSN stands for Submersible Ship Nuclear.SSBN is an acronym for Submersible Ship Ballistic Missile Nuclear.
RangeSSN is utilized to take out assailants who are nearby.SSBN is used to fire long-range missiles.
LocationSSN is prone to conflict since it seeks to destroy hostile ships.SSBN conceals its whereabouts from other ships and submarines.
AttackSSN is a multi-purpose assault submarine.SSBN conducts strategic attacks.
Launched in In December 1959, the SSN was commissioned.In 1955, the USS Nautilus became the first SSBN to sea.

What is SSN?

The SSN is a nuclear-powered assault submarine that may be used for various missions. SSN is a classification mark for submarines in the U.S. Navy.

The SSN is the primary warfighting arm of the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Fleet, with its mission being to find and destroy enemy ships and submarines.

The vessel carries weapons to accomplish its task and can find, track, and destroy enemy ships using sonar, torpedoes, missiles, and mines.

The SSN can also attack land targets with cruise missiles launched from torpedo tubes or Vertical Launch Systems (VLS).

The Los Angeles class was the follow-on class to the successful Sturgeon class of attack submarines. The design was modified to incorporate technology advances such as improved nuclear reactors and quieter screws.

These changes resulted in a giant ship with more power than previous classes of submarines.

The first ship in this class was USS Los Angeles (SSN-688), commissioned on November 11, 1976.

General Dynamics Electric Boat Division built 62 Los Angeles-class submarines at Groton, CT, for the U.S. Navy between 1976 and 1996.

Most of these boats have been decommissioned to reach their 30-year life expectancy.

The Seawolf class is a class of nuclear-powered fast attack submarines (SSNs) in service with the United States Navy.

They are the most significant attack submarines ever built for the U.S. Navy. The class has been superseded by the Virginia class, which consists of 30 boats beginning in 2004.

submersible ship nuclear

What is SSBN?

The SSBN is only employed for strategic operations. The submarine regularly enters the ocean and assumes an undiscovered posture in a nuclear assault.

The Tomahawk cruise missile is among the ordnance carried by the SSBN.

The missile can detect and destroy targets with pinpoint accuracy, including aircraft carriers, coastal targets, and land-based facilities.

It has various warhead options that can be used against any target type. The Tomahawk cruise missile ranges over 1,000 miles, depending on its configuration.

In addition to the Tomahawk cruise missile, the Ohio-class submarine is armed with four 533mm torpedo tubes used to attack ships and other submarines.

The Ohio-class SSBN is the most potent submarine in the U.S. Navy’s arsenal, armed with 24 Trident II missiles, each of which can carry multiple warheads.

The sail on the Ohio class is made of HY-80 steel, while the hull is HY-100 steel. The Ohio-class SSBN has an overall 560 feet and a beam of 42 feet. Displacement is 16,764 tons submerged.

The Ohio class SSBN can remain at sea for up to 70 consecutive days and has a submerged speed of 25 knots. It has a crew complement numbering 155 sailors and officers.

The first five boats in the class were fitted with 12 missile launchers, while later ships were fitted with 16 launchers.

submersible ship ballistic missile nuclear

Main Differences Between SSN and SSBN 

  1. SSN is employed to take out close-range intruders, while SSBN is used to launch long-range missiles.
  2. A multi-purpose attack submarine, the SSN. SSBN, on the other hand, carries out strategic strikes.
  3. The SSN was launched in December 1959, although the USS Nautilus was the first SSBN to deploy to sea in 1955.
  4. Submersible Ship Nuclear is the complete form of SSN, whereas Submersible Ship Ballistic Missile Nuclear is SSBN.
  5. Because SSN attempts to eliminate opposing spacecraft, it is prone to wear. On the other hand, SSBN keeps its whereabouts secret from other submarines.
Difference Between SSN and SSBN
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