On the global stage, a nation’s military power is often gauged by the size and technological advancement of its weaponry. As modern warfare has evolved into stealth and covert operations, submarines have become an increasingly important vehicle for projecting power across the world.
Submarines serve in naval arsenals for strategic deterrence, including nuclear deterrence, making them central components of the world’s main naval powers.
To determine the country with the most submarines, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed GlobalFirePower, an annually-updated website tracking defense-related statistics of 145 nations. Countries were ranked by the number of military submarines in active service, and only countries with more than five submarines were considered for the list. Data regarding total naval fleet size and the most common classes of submarines came from The World Directory of Modern Military Warships. We also added the GlobalFirePower PowerIndex score, which denotes a country’s overall military strength, with lower scores denoting greater power. Military expenditure data for 2022 came from Stockholm International Peace Research Institute Military Expenditure Database.
Although the United States is known for having the most powerful military on the planet, it does not have the most submarines. Quality over quantity seems to be the motto, as many of the submarines are nuclear-powered and the U.S. has invested heavily in technological innovation and upkeep, ensuring its submarines are amongst the most advanced globally. Take a look at the U.S. Navy’s newest ships and submarines.
China, with its notable strides in military enhancement in recent years, has the most submarines, at 78. China’s fleet showcases a broad spectrum of diesel-electric and nuclear-powered submarines. The majority of its submarines are domestically produced, incorporating Chinese technological advancements. Here are the most common ships and submarines in the Chinese navy.
Notably, the countries with the stronger GlobalFirePower PowerIndex scores (scores closer to zero) tend to have more submarines. And not surprising, countries that have higher military expenditures tend to have more submarines.
Here is a look at the countries with the most military submarines.
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