In naval history, there has never been a confrontation between a nuclear-powered submarine and an enemy destroyer.

Destroyers today tend to be stronger and larger, capable of operating independently. Missile destroyers such as the Arleigh Burke class of the US Navy, with a length of 155 meters, a full load displacement of 9,200 tons, and more than 90 missiles, are comparable to that of a missile cruiser class.

And nuclear-powered submarines are operated by the nuclear reactors on board. So the submarine did not have to float to recharge; therefore the vessel does not have to be on the surface as often as possible.

destroyer and submarine
Destroyer and submarine

Nuclear submarines have complex technology, huge weapon payloads, deep diving and long-lasting underwater durability. Only a few countries have the capacity to build nuclear submarines because the cost of nuclear technology is so high. Currently the only countries that own nuclear-powered submarines are the United States, Russia, China, Great Britain, France and India.

The Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines themselves are also powerful. Attack weapons include 12 submarine-launched Tomahawk cruise missiles, more than 30 MK-48 heavy torpedoes and Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

These weapons can effectively attack surface ships, even larger ships such as cruisers and aircraft carriers. Therefore, modern nuclear submarines are comparable to destroyers in terms of combat effectiveness.

In a head-to-head naval war, if the nuclear submarine and the destroyer detect each other, then the nuclear submarine has lost its advantage, that is the factor of secrecy.

And once a nuclear submarine loses its ability to hide, it is like driving with headlights at night, even though the destroyer is “on the headlights”, but the equipment and defense capabilities of destroyers are much stronger than those of nuclear submarines.

One of the advantages that a surface ship has is speed. The destroyer itself, which is equipped with a large number of intercepting devices and weapons, such as surface-to-air missiles, short-range anti-aircraft cannon, and electronic jamming devices. Because of this, the destroyer has strong defense against anti-ship missiles, cruise missiles and even submarine-launched torpedoes.


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