Submarine Missions: Special Operations

Submarines have carried out a variety of covert missions related to intelligence gathering and reconnaissance. American submarines have observed and collected data from foreign missile tests and naval exercises.

Specially modified submarines have delivered Navy SEAL teams to hostile shores. SEAL is an acronym for sea-air-land, the Navy's force trained and equipped for clandestine special operations such as surveillance and reconnaissance.

Although such missions have usually excited a good deal of public interest when they are revealed, they should not be blown out of proportion. They were always secondary during the Cold War to the primary missions of nuclear deterrence and antisubmarine warfare.

SEALs launch a SEAL delivery vehicle (SDV) while submerged. Courtesy U.S. Naval Institute

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