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Ballistic Missile Submarine units

The strategic naval forces, which in 1996 comprised forty-five nuclear submarines and 13,000 personnel, are operationally subordinate to the Ministry of Defense and logistically supported by the fleets in whose ports they are based. Submarines were the most important forces in the Soviet Naval Forces. In 1989 the Soviet Union had the largest number of ballistic missile submarines in the world. Most of the sixty-two ballistic missile submarines could launch their nuclear-armed missiles against intercontinental targets from Soviet home waters. The deployment of mobile land-based ICBMs in the late 1980s, however, could reduce the importance of ballistic missile submarines as the Soviet Union's most survivable strategic force.

Soviet attack submarines have had an antisubmarine warfare (ASW) mission. In wartime the attack submarine force--203 boats in 1989--would attempt to destroy the enemy's ballistic missile and attack submarines. Since 1973 the Soviet Union deployed ten different attack submarine classes, including five new types since 1980. In 1989 the Soviet Union also had sixty-six guided missile submarines for striking the enemy's land targets, surface combatant groups, and supply convoys.

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