A trident is a pole with a metal triple-bladed fork at the end, much like a pitchfork, but with straight blades.

The trident has long served as a symbol for the ocean, and for the oceanic gods, such as Neptune. This comes from its initial use as a fishing tool. The trident is far superior to a spear for fishing. The three separate blades give the fisherman a much better chance of skewering a fish than a normal spear ever could. The trident has kept its water association even though centuries have passed since it was used in this manner.

The trident has also served as a weapon. In the real world tridents were used mostly by peasants, as it is a simple weapon to construct, and has a similar feel to the pitchfork that most farmers are intimately familiar with. Organized troops never fought with tridents. Due to the weapons oddity, it gained some popularity in ancient gladiatorial combats. Unusual weapons always helped to draw a crowd, and the trident was no exception.

Fantasy fiction and role-playing games is where the trident really shines. As it is the preferred weapon of most undersea races, such as locathah, mermen, sahuagin, and tritons. While many of the gods and demons of the fantasy worlds have been known to wield a trident as their preferred weapon.

The name trident has also been used as a brand name for a variety of modern day items. Items such as nuclear warheads, chewing gum, computer parts, video game controllers, SCUBA gear, flat panel displays, and even a Junior College all bear the trident name.

Three-engined jet airliner built by De Havilland in the 1960s for short-haul flights as a successor to the Vickers Viscount turboprop design. 117 were built, mainly for British airlines, primarily BEA, and served until the mid 1980s when they were replaced by Boeing 737s and 757s. A BEA Trident was the first commercial flight to make a fully automatic touchdown, at Paris Orly in 1965.

Trident is also the name of the currently-modern family of U.S. Navy Fleet Ballistic Missiles (FBM), which are carried by (and launched from) nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). The name is drawn from the mythical weapon of the god ofthe sea, Poseidon or Triton (for example) depending on which mythform you subscribe to.

The Trident comes in two 'flavors,' the C4 (Trident I) and the D5 (Trident II). They represent, in turn, the fifth and sixth generation of U.S. Navy FBMs since the program's inception with the Polaris system, which was first deployed in 1960. Ever since that time, the U.S. Navy has had missile submarines at sea as a deterrent - a secure, second-strike force able to 'ride out' any attack on the U.S. itself. The actual role of these missiles has become blurred as their capability has increased; the guidance system in the Trident missiles is reportedly on a par with that found in the Minuteman III ICBM. Coupled with advances in submarine navigation and positionfinding, this would mean that these weapons are accurate enough to be used for counterforce (first-strike) purposes.

Unlike the land-based missiles of the U.S. Air Force, the Navy's current crop utilize a dual-mode guidance system. The missile is guided during flight by an inertial navigation system; however, during post-boost, the trajectory and position are checked using a star tracker to perform a state vector update. As a result, Trident equipment sections have a small armored window to allow the astronavigation instruments to do their job.

For a better description of the operation and structure of submarine-launched missiles in general, see the writeup on SLBMs.

The Trident-class missiles are deployed by the U.S. solely on Ohio-class (SSBN-726) boats. Each boat carries 24 Tridents. The Trident series (both the C4 and the D5) is MIRV-capable, meaning each can carry up to five RVs, each able to carry a warhead. The C4 and D5 variants differ much more than their common name suggests; the D5 is really a new missile with system commonality to the C4. The D5 has a diameter of 83 inches compared to the C4's 74; this alone meant massive refits to Ohio's geared to carry the C4. In addition, the post-boost phase behavior of the D5 differs to improve accuracy, and the newer RVs on the D5 have been improved to better retain shape and thus aerodynamic stability during reentry.

The Trident weapon system was sold by the United States to Great Britain for use in its own SSBNs. The missiles, launching systems and fire control systems were all transferred. The U.K. built its own submarines and nuclear warheads to place on the missiles, and this system remains in service with the Royal Navy to this day, operated out of Faslane Scotland.

The good part - some stats. Woohoo! These are courtesy of the U.S. Navy's fact file, the Federation of American Scientists, and some Lockheed Missiles & Space propaganda.

Format: (stat) (C4 value) / (D5 value)

  • Unit Cost: --na-- / $30.9 million
  • Contractor: Lockheed Missiles & Space (both)
  • Propulsion: three-stage solid-fuelled rocket motor
  • Length: 10.2m (34 ft) / 13.41m (44 ft)
  • Diameter (Max): 1.8m (74 in.) / 2.11m (83 in.)
  • Weight at Launch: --na-- / 58,500 kg (130,000 lbs.)
  • Maximum Range: 4000 nm / "Greater than 4000 nm" (heh.)
  • Payload: (both) 1-5 Mk.4/5 RV w. nuclear warhead
  • Guidance: (both) Inertial with startracker verification midcourse
  • Year Deployed: 1979 / 1990

Trident is an independent bookstore and cafe in Boston, MA. It is on Newbury Street on the last block before Mass Ave. Trident has great metaphysics and sex sections, and many other non-mainstream type books (it also has a respectable mainstream fiction section, but you can find that anywhere). The food is also good, especially if you like bizarre vegetarian concoctions. Possibly its best attribute is that it's open late, to 12 or 1 (depending on the day), a rarity in that part of Boston. Also, the waitstaff is usually pretty attractive, assuming you go for queer chicks.

Tri"dent (?), n. [L. tridens, -entis; tri- (see Tri-) + dens tooth: cf. F. trident. See Tooth.]

1. Class Myth.

A kind of scepter or spear with three prongs, -- the common attribute of Neptune.

2. Rom. Antiq.

A three-pronged spear or goad, used for urging horses; also, the weapon used by one class of gladiators.


A three-pronged fish spear.

4. Geom.

A curve of third order, having three infinite branches in the direction and a fourth infinite branch in the opposite direction.

Trident bat Zool., an Asiatic rhinolophid bat (Triaenops Persicus), having the nose membrane in the shape of a trident.


© Webster 1913.

Tri"dent, a. [L. tridens.]

Having three teeth or prongs; tridentate.


© Webster 1913.

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