The photo by a Sooke tour guide of a U.S. submarine surfacing in the waters of the Salish Sea earlier this week caught the interest of many.
What made it so interesting, to some, is how often an underwater U.S. Navy vessel that cost about $2 billion to build can be seen in the waters off southern Vancouver Island.
More than we realized.
Turns out there are 13 subs, all nuclear powered, stationed out of the nearby Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor, also referred to as the Bangor Trident Base. The direct distance (as the raven flies) is about 55 miles, or 88 kilometres, from Ogden Point to the Kitsap-Bangor base.
“We can confirm it was a U.S. submarine conducting a routine transit through the Strait of Juan de Fuca, parts of which are in Canadian water,” noted spokesperson Lieut. Mack Jamieson, public affairs officer for the U.S. Navy’s Submarine Group 9.
The submarine recorded by tour boat operator Paul Pudwell is believed to be one of 10 Ohio class nuclear-powered ballistic missile-launching subs that make up Submarine Group Nine, all stationed out of Kitsap-Bangor. They are broken up into two squadrons, Squadron 17 features the USS Henry M. Jackson, USS Alabama, USS Nevada, USS Pennsylvania, USS Kentucky, USS Maine and USS Louisiana, while Squadron 19 features the namesake Ohio-class USS Ohio, USS Michigan, and the USS Nebraska. The Ohio subs are all built previous to 1997 and some have been in Bangor since the early 1980s.
Kitsap is also home to a trio of Seawolf class nuclear-powered attack-subs (the SS Seawolf, USS Connecticut and USS Jimmy Carter), all built before 2005.
The reality is the U.S. Navy deploys submarines on missions all over the world and throughout the year, all from its Naval Base Kitsap in the Hood Canal. Most missions are six months long.
The Ohio class subs cost about $2 billion to build while the Seawolf class cost about $3 billion each. Up to 150 officers and crew members man the subs.
Kitsap also hosts two aircraft carriers, the USS Nimitz and the USS Carl Vinson, when they are not deployed to places such as the Persian Gulf. Each has a crew of about 6,000, cost about $4.5 billion and have about 90 jet fighters on board.
Paul Pudwell, the guide who filmed the sub earlier this week, said he sees about 20 submarines surface each year, as he’s on the water at least 200 out of 365 days. His video of the sub quickly picked up 8,000 views, mostly in Canada, with many interested in what kind of sub it was.