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for 20% off by being one of the first 200 to sign up at In all of World War Two, the world used about
5 megatons of explosives. Now, this is a Trident II missile, capable
of carrying 12 nuclear warheads together equivalent in power to about 5 megatons of explosives. A single American Ohio Class submarine can
carry 24 Trident II missiles. A single submarine can carry a devastating,
catastrophic, inconceivable amount of firepower. While in reality due to arms reduction treaties
and practicality these boats often carry far less than their maximum armament, submarines
can still creep up anywhere, undetected, ready to unleash their firepower, more powerful
that the entire arsenal of some countries, in an instant. Submarines are different in purpose to some
other elements of a navy. While an aircraft carrier, for example, is
intended to be big, foreboding, and noticeable as a means to display a nation’s power to
the world, submarines are meant to to be unseen, undetected, an invisible, silent force that
could or could not be anywhere at any time. In a way, submarines almost serve a purpose
of psychological warfare—an enemy can never know for sure whether a submarine is looming
off its shore. While dozens of countries operate submarines,
the most powerful and often largest of these boats are those capable of firing ballistic
missiles carrying nuclear warheads. Only six nations are confirmed to have these
submarines—The US, UK, France, India, Russia, and China. In addition, analysts have found evidence
suggesting that North Korea and Israel also each have nuclear-missile capable submarines. Nowadays, there are essentially two different
types of military submarines with two different missions. The attack submarine, the more common kind,
is generally smaller and, in combat, attacks other close-range targets like ships using
torpedoes, shorter range missiles, and other armaments. The other, often larger type of submarine
are those ballistic missile submarines which essentially serve the purpose of being a mobile,
hidden launch platform for nuclear missiles. The idea is that, as a stealth launch platform,
a country’s submarines would survive any nuclear first strike and therefore be able
to retaliate against an aggressor. Ballistic missile submarines are therefore
crucial to the idea of mutually assured destruction—if anyone attacks with nuclear weapons, assuming
those attacked had nuclear weapons that would survive a strike and they retaliated, both
the attacker and those attacked would be destroyed. Therefore, many consider these nuclear missile
equipped submarines to actually be a form of nuclear deterrence—they say they reduce
the likelihood of others using nukes since they assure their subsequent destruction. Considering that these submarines might survive
when a country and its government do not, they therefore need the independent authority
to use their missiles. While other operators likely have similar
setups, it’s known that the UK’s four ballistic missile submarines each have a letter
locked in a safe instructing their commander on what to do if the UK is wiped out by a
nuclear strike. These letters are written by each prime minister
at the beginning of their term and destroyed, unread, at the end. Each PM essentially has to chose which of
the four potential options they want to instruct the sub commanders to do—nothing, to place
themselves under the command of an ally like the US or Australia, for the commander to
use their judgment, or to retaliate and launch nuclear missiles at the attacker. Of course, what gives submarines their stealth
is the blanket of water. American Ohio class submarines are publicly
known to be able to go down as deep as 800 feet or 250 meters. In reality, it is believed they can go much
further. As soon as a sub surfaces, though, their stealth
is lost especially in today’s era of satellite tracking. Therefore, it is important that submarines
can stay underwater for long periods so that that can dive underwater on one side of the
world and make their way to the other undetected. Of course, almost all of the world’s ballistic
missile equipped submarines are nuclear powered meaning they have virtually unlimited range. These boat’s reactor cores only need to
be swapped every few decades. In addition, most submarines have oxygen generators
and desalinators so, like nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the only thing that really
limits how long they can stay deployed is their food supply. How it works on American nuclear subs, which
work similarly to those of other countries, is that each boat has two fully staffed crews
at any given time—the Blue and Gold crews. The Blue crew will first man the boat while
on patrol which lasts, on average, 77 days. The different submarines different patrols
are scheduled so that there are always submarines deployed. Despite this long patrol period, in the US
Navy at least, submarines are actually known to have the best food of any vessel. Some say it’s because submarines are small—the
chef has nowhere to hide if a meal is bad. It more likely has to do with the fact that
submarines get a higher food budget than other vessels. Food is important to morale especially considering
submarine duty is one of the Navy’s toughest jobs. Of course, fresh food can only last, at most,
two weeks, so the meal quality deteriorates as the weeks go by. Eventually, the only ingredients left are
canned, dried, or frozen. The sign of food quality deteriorating does
mean that the end of patrol is coming at which time the first crew, the Blue crew, would
take the boat back to either its home port or a allied overseas port. The Gold crew will then arrive and then both
crews will work to complete a turnover, restocking, and maintenance period of 25 days. Then, the Blue crew will fly home for vacation
and subsequent training before the cycle repeats again. Most crew members keep this cycle going for
years on end. Submariners even live their days in cycles
as well. They work eight hours on then have sixteen
off to train, conduct maintenance, work out, eat, and sleep. Now, to get a sense of the scale of the largest
of these submarines, here’s a Boeing 747-400 and here’s an American Ohio-Class submarine. It is almost 2.5 times longer with a hull
circumference far larger than the plane’s fuselage. But even this is not the world’s largest
submarine. That title goes to slightly longer and far
wider Russian Typhoon-class submarine. These are so large that their amenities include
a sauna and small pool. On American and most other submarines, the
amenities are more lacking, though. It’s important that submariners have things
to do in their down-time considering they’ll spend three months without sunlight in a metal
tube, but there just isn’t much space. The mess is really the only open space not
devoted to work. Submarines tend to have gym equipment but
it’s not usually consolidated in one room—more often it’s just spread out in different
nooks and crannies. On large Ohio-class submarines, a submariners
tiny bunk is their only true personal space. On smaller submarines, like the American Virginia-class,
the number of sailors exceeds the number of bunks so the most junior sailors will have
to share bunks—while one works the other sleeps and vice versa—and there’s no true
personal space. Compared to many surface Navy ships, which
have phones, frequent mail deliveries, and even internet, communication to the outside
world is limited on submarines. Each submariner is given an email address
that their family can send messages to. When the submarine is able to receive communications,
all these messages are then sent electronically. Onboard, the messages are all reviewed by
a dedicated crew member. They check through to be sure that no information
is being sent that they don’t want known by the sailor. For example, they might choose to not pass
on information of a family death in order to not affect crew morale. There’s often no way to get sailors off,
anyways, so many believe it’s better to leave that news for the end of the patrol. How submarines communicate, though, is complicated
because they do, of course, spend months underwater. Almost all radio waves can’t travel through
salt water but submarines do need communications to receive orders. Very low frequency radio waves, though, do
penetrate water to an extent. That’s why VLF radio forms the core of submarine
communication systems. Different navies have large VLF transmitters—for
example, the US has ones in Maine, Washington, Hawaii, and elsewhere; India has one on its
southern coast; and Australia has one in Western Australia. These VLF signals are able to penetrate the
ocean and be picked up by a submarine as deep as 60 feet or 20 meters. One major disadvantage of VLF, though, is
that it is very low bandwidth. It can’t even transmit real-time audio signals—the
most it can do is about 700 words per minute in text. When deeper, some submarines also have the
capability to launch buoys to shallower depths to receive signals. Submarines also typically can’t respond
with VLF frequencies since they don’t have large enough transmitters so they have to
raise to shallow depths so they can have antennas sticking out of the water to respond. It’s at this depth that modern submarines
will often have quick transmissions with satellites in order to download and upload information. There are a few other techniques used less
commonly, some new technologies under development, and some separate systems designed for use
when the main systems are compromised, but VLF radio forms the bulk of communications
with most submarines. But the fact that submarines spend their time
underwater in stealth also makes another crucial element difficult—navigation. Both GPS and Radar don’t work underwater
since they use higher frequency waves that can’t make their way through any depth of
water. What does work underwater is Sonar where the
submarine essentially generates a sound and then listens to when and how the sound comes
back to map out its surroundings but emitting this sound makes it quite easy for others
to track a submarine. Therefore, when operating in stealth conditions,
submarines can’t use active sonar. Rather, they use an inertial navigation system. These are essentially systems of accelerometers
and gyroscopes that take the last-known accurate GPS position of a submarine and then tracks
the submarines movements relative to that. It uses this to estimate position but of course,
as time goes on from the last reliable reading, the accuracy of this system diminishes. 24 hours after the last reading, these will
drift to only about 1.15 miles or 1.85 kilometers of accuracy. Now, this technique combined with the consultation
of maps is usually fine since most of the time the ocean is a big, wide open space but
there are a few objects floating below the surface that submarines could collide with—submarines. Some modern submarines are so well cloaked
that another submarine just feet away might not be able to detect it. That’s what happened on the night of February
3rd, 2009 when the British Navy’s HMS Vanguard submarine felt a resounding bump while sailing
in the East Atlantic ocean. It had collided with the French submarine
Le Triomphant seemingly just by chance. Luckily they were going at low speed and there
were no injuries but, considering both these subs were both equipped with nuclear warheads,
one can only imagine the potential consequences of a more damaging collision. Submarines are dangerous—even in peacetime. They are designed to disappear so, after something
does go wrong, they often do just disappear. Many submarine operating countries have rescue
submarines that can hypothetically be used to save stranded submariners by going down,
latching on, and shuttling sailors to the surface but in practice, these have never
really had much action. Sometimes submarines sink, their systems fail,
and nobody can get to them before oxygen runs out. As submarines become better at masking themselves
submarine tracking technology is simultaneously advancing. There’s some thought that there will be
a time when nothing can hide in the ocean’s depths but until then, submarines are a crucial
aspect of any modern navy. Nowadays, just as they were in World War Two,
even traditional, non ballistic-missile submarines and their torpedos are effective and deadly. One of the best ways to track submarines is
also by sonar equipped submarines so it’s a situation where countries need submarines
because others have submarines. That’s why there are still hundreds of them
somewhere, or rather, anywhere, ready to strike at any moment. So, you know those short, free moments during
your day like when waiting for the bus, or the train, or for an appointment, or a call? It’s hard to do anything productive during
these times but Brilliant tackles this in a great way. Every day, their short Daily Problems give
you the context and framework needed to solve a problem and let you tackle it on your own. They publish a huge variety of problems so
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more in a little time. To start solving Brilliant’s Daily Problems
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100 thoughts on “Living Underwater: How Submarines Work”

  1. I hope you enjoy this video! One note: the little numbers that pop up in the bottom-left corner are references. By matching the number to the ones at the bottom of the description you can find where a piece of information comes from in the video.

  2. India and Russia also have ELF capability meaning they can send one way messages consisting of 2 characters to a submarine that is still submerged anywhere in the world and at any depth. The US used to have ELF capability until 1980 when they decommissioned the ELF facility because the antenna was over 2.2 miles long and the output power requirements were too expensive to maintain.

  3. @10:15 I can't imagine carrying nuclear warheads would have made much of a difference. atomic bombs don't just explode like nitroglycerin. The fact that these are nuclear subs carrying radioactive material is enough to create a mess if the damage is severe enough regardless of whether it is carrying nukes, but beyond that…

  4. Hey Russia. You should watch this. Reactor leaks and fires on submarines is a BIG NO NO. Hey Iran a US Ohio class boomer sub coming to a water way near you soon. PS the US has 14 of these with seven at sea at any time.

  5. Good thing the colliding subs were from allied countries. Two hostile countries armed with nuclear warheads would have been a very tense moment.

  6. Great video, Wendover, and mad props for the diligent work of adding references. Combined, they earned you a new subscriber, and as much as I troll YouTube I don't subscribe to much, so well done! Also, a shout out to my fellow commenters…thanks for the interesting additions to the video info, and well played in how nearly everyone is being friendly about it!

  7. Our enemies could be watching these videos and and be Translating videos so question how careful are you really make thess videos

  8. I’m from Australia, we don’t have a ballistic missile sub as we do not believe in nuclear power nor nuclear bombs! We use shear force in our military, we don’t chicken out to blow up entire nations

  9. former ET1 (SS) here. I served on a ballistic missile boat. I found your video interesting. I will neither confirm or deny any information provided….leaving you to guess what you think was true and what was not. (hint: there are some of each). submarines are not for everyone. I volunteered after my company commander in boot camp stated "tomorrow you will be asked to select a ship type for your sea duty. I will not suggest what you should choose. all I will say is there are two kinds of ship in my Navy. submarines and targets. choose wisely gentlemen."

  10. As a submariner this video is actually great information to pass on to family members so they understand what submarines are all about.

  11. Do you think the billions of people on the planet can handle this in the next atomic world war? Or will most of them die?
    I did enjoy this vid, other things just crossed my mind.

  12. In the case of the two submarines colliding, I wasn't aware that a collision could prime a nuclear warhead. I would think those things aren't like your average explosive and go off when dropped.

  13. Well i have a story for you guys. In the town where i was born lived a man who had a submarine and constantly used it. well i was just a young lad in liverpool and him and my father we're very great friends. one day he told me a story about his life in the land of submarines. Years later he took me on a journey, and then we found the rarest body of water on earth. He called it "the sea of green". I now live beneath the waves because of this wonderful man… Oh and i mention it was a strange submarine. it was bright yellow and orange?

  14. When I am laying in my bathtub and I think of a hot girl my periscope sometimes breaches the surface and I always worry about being detected by my girlfriend, but usually she just thinks I am excited to see her.

  15. A submarine once dove down to the wreck of the RMS Titanic and sent a picture to researchers.

    This picture was groundbreaking in that it was discovered the Titanic's pool is still filled to the brim with water over a hundred years since its sinking.

  16. How the submarine's crew will be informed that is country is under attack , since the submarine is still hidden in the depths of the sea.?

  17. Video Title: How Submarines Work. Video content within the first 30 seconds, MISSLES, warheads and Nukes. Am I watching the correct video?

  18. I wouldn't worry about ballistic missile carrying subs of the Indian Navy. You can HEAR and SMELL them from miles away.

  19. Considering the range we have to cover, our Aussie subs are shitbuckets compared to US and Russia. Ours are like sardine cans compared to the 44gal drums they have as far as crewing and size. You could never pay me enough to serve on Australian subs!

  20. If anyone honestly thinks that President Trump is a fraud while nobama is innocent….. I am here to tell you, you are full of shit lol.

  21. I think it takes a rare kind of seaman to be able to work on a sub! First of all, they're rather claustrophobic machines, and there is not much room for failure down deep with all that pressure! I don't think I would like 3 months in a tube where you can't see a lot, always being aware of crush depth! The sea floor is not flat, there are mountains down there, some higher than Mt. Everest, and I'd always be wondering if the sonar was adequate! The camaraderie those men have would be very nice though. Bravo to them all!

  22. Is it just me ….or does not the word submarine have a B in it…..they are not summereeens…. they are SUB-marines. Other than the hideous diction , quite interesting .

  23. I wonder why there is no north korea in the list of submarine operating countries i couldn’t find their flag, they have more submarines than any other countries.

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