November 7, 2023 | Flash Brief

Pentagon Deploys Ohio-Class Guided Missile Submarine to the Middle East 

November 7, 2023 | Flash Brief

Pentagon Deploys Ohio-Class Guided Missile Submarine to the Middle East 

Latest Developments 

An Ohio-class guided missile submarine (SSGN) arrived in the Middle East on November 5, according to a press release by the U.S. Naval Forces Central Command. Capable of carrying up to 154 Tomahawk missiles, Ohio-class SSGNs combine significant long-range precision strike capacity with stealth, mobility, and a number of other capabilities. The United States often prefers to conceal the location of its submarines, but in this case, the Pentagon was eager to trumpet the submarine’s arrival. The administration seeks to deter additional attacks on U.S. troops and dissuade Tehran and Hezbollah from launching a major war in Israel’s north while the Jewish state is battling Hamas in Gaza. 

Expert Analysis 

“The announcement of the submarine’s arrival in the Middle East constitutes a not-so-subtle message by the Biden administration to Tehran and its terror proxies that they should halt attacks on U.S. forces and not open a major northern front against Israel. The message has been sent. It remains to be seen whether the message has been received.” — Bradley Bowman, Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Military and Political Power 

“The arrival of a U.S. Navy SSGN in the Mediterranean provides additional cost imposition capability against Hezbollah or other Iranian proxies that might attack Israel, although Tomahawk missiles are probably an expensive piece of ammunition for most targets. There is no question that the United States has sufficient capabilities to deter Iranian proxy action. The real question is: do groups like Hezbollah think the U.S. deterrence threat is credible?” — Mark Montgomery, FDD Senior Fellow and Senior Director of FDD’s Center on Cyber and Technology Innovation 

“The announcement that an SSGN is operating in the Middle East is intended to send a message to Iran and its proxies that the United States has the capability to quickly respond to provocations with a barrage of Tomahawk cruise missiles — an experience that some of Iran’s allies in the region have previously found unpleasant.” — Ryan Brobst, FDD Senior Research Analyst 

Changes to U.S. Force Posture in the Region 

While the SSGN that arrived in the Middle East adds significant combat power to U.S. military posture in the Middle East, the conventionally armed SSGN should not be confused with Ohio-class Ballistic Missile Submarines (SSBN), which carry Trident II submarine-launched ballistic missiles, the sea-based leg of America’s nuclear triad. The arrival of the submarine closely follows the announcement by the Pentagon that the Eisenhower Carrier Strike Group (CSG) had arrived in the Middle East on November 4 at the order of Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin. The Eisenhower CSG joins the Ford CSG, which has been in the Eastern Mediterranean since October 10.  

The 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit is also operating in the area, aboard the three ships of the Bataan Amphibious Ready Group. The Wall Street Journal reported on October 25 that the Pentagon is sending a combination of around a dozen Patriot and THAAD air defense systems to the region. The United States has also augmented A-10, F-15, F-16, and F-35 squadrons.  

In Support of Israel, U.S. Sends Aircraft Carrier Strike Group to Eastern Mediterranean,” FDD Flash Brief 

U.S. Surges Additional Combat Forces to the Middle East,” FDD Flash  

How the Pentagon can help Israel now,” by Bradley Bowman and Ryan Brobst 

Junipers, Oaks, and Killer Tomatoes,” Podcast (with Transcript) Featuring Bradley Bowman and CENTCOM Deputy Commander Lt. Gen. Gregory Guillot 


Hezbollah Iran Iran Global Threat Network Iran-backed Terrorism Israel Israel at War Military and Political Power U.S. Defense Policy and Strategy