Cold War Timeline: Origins of the Cold War

Submarines in the Cold War

Submarine design was revolutionized between 1945 and 1960. Far-reaching changes in hull design, electronic sensors, power plants, and weapons transformed the World War II submarine, a surface craft that could submerge briefly underwater, into the Cold War submarine, a fast, long-range underwater boat that rarely needed to surface at all. Nuclear power was the final step. Nuclear-powered submarines played a major role in the Cold War as underwater ballistic missile launch platforms. They were complemented by fast attack submarines, which kept close tabs on enemy submarines, ready to strike at the first sign of a hostile launch. Although the United States ceased building diesel-electric submarines in favor of nuclear-powered boats, diesel-electrics continued in service throughout their useful lives—for some, into the 1980s.

American Society & Culture in the Cold WarSubmarines of the Cold WarThe War in Korea
Models of an Ohio-class Boomer and Los Angeles-class Fast Attack. These are examples of modern U.S. nuclear-powered submarines.

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