Deployed from the Great War onwards and then widely used during the Second World War, submarines occupy a special place in conflicts. From small submersibles used for infiltration missions near enemy coasts, armies have grown into real nuclear-powered behemoths. Today, nuclear missile submarines (SSBNs) are primarily used for deterrence missions.

These giants of the seas, often longer than a football field, can shoot down missiles equipped with several nuclear warheads, each of which has a power equivalent to seven times that of Hiroshima.

The SSBNs in circulation are spread among a handful of nations: France, China, United States, India, Russia and United Kingdom. Important clarification: the two rivals of the Cold War share nearly three-quarters of the world SSBN fleet. They are now 40 in circulation.

Here are the ten longest submarines on the planet:

10. Le Triomphant Class (France) – 138 meters

Le Terrible submarine is the most recent of the four Le Triomphant class SSBNs in France. It was commissioned in September 2010.

9. Vanguard Class (UK) – 149 meters

The United Kingdom has four SSBNs, making up a class called Vanguard. The most recent, HMS Vengeance , entered service in November 1999. Each British SSBN carries 40 nuclear warheads.

8. Dreadnought Class (UK) – 153 meters

The Deadnought class, officially announced in 2016, is expected to take over from Vanguard, whose submarines date from the 1990s. The first of four new submersibles is due to enter service in 2028. The HMS Dreadnought will weigh 17,000 tonnes and be equipped of « new innovative lighting which will allow the crew to simulate night and day », explains BAE Systems, the company in charge of the work.

7.K-44 Ryazan (Russia) – 155 meters

The K-44 Ryazan, Delta III class, was commissioned by Russia in January 1982. Weighing just over 13,000 tons underwater, it can accommodate 130 crew members.

6. Class Delta IV (Russia) – 167 meters

Commissioned between 1984 and 1990, the seven Delta IV class submarines each weigh just over 18,000 tonnes. They can evolve between 320 and 400 meters deep. The submersibles carry RSM-54 Makeyev missiles, which have a maximum range of 8,300 kilometers.

5. Class Boreï (Russia)  170 meters

With four submersibles, the Boreï class represents the second Russian SSBN fleet, after the Delta class. These submarines were the first to be built by Russia after the fall of the Soviet Union. Launched between 2008 and 2017, they are split between the Barents Sea and the Pacific Ocean. They reach 24,000 tonnes when diving and can go up to 480 meters deep.

4. Ohio Class (United States) – 170 meters

The Ohio class was, when launched in 1981, the largest submarines ever built by the United States. 14 submersibles now make up this class; the latest, the USS Louisiana , was commissioned in September 1997. Each of them carries 24 Trident nuclear-warhead sea-to-ground missiles, with a range of 7,400 kilometers.

3. Columbia Class (United States) – 171 meters

The United States is planning to replace its Ohio submarines, which are reaching the end of their life. The Columbia class will be made up of 12 SSBNs each weighing nearly 21,000 tonnes underwater. Construction of the first submersible is scheduled to begin this year, with commissioning scheduled for 2031.

2. TK-208 Dimitri Donskoy (Russia) – 174 meters

The sea monster Dimitri Donskoy is the last representative of the Typhoon class, which had six submersibles. In service since the end of December 1981, this SSBN weighing nearly 27,000 tonnes underwater can count on 100,000 horsepower. It can embark up to 160 men over a period of 120 days in the depths.

1. K-329 Belgorod (Russia) – 184 meters

The K-329 Belgorod is not an SSBN but a nuclear submarine cruiser, which can also carry six Poseidon nuclear torpedoes. When it enters service, which should take place this year, it will officially become the longest submarine in the world at 184 meters. It turns out to be ten meters longer than its distant cousin, Dimitri Donskoy, even if the latter is wider.

Under construction since 1992, it will be able to spend up to four months in the depths of the oceans.

# Business Insider