The U.S. nuclear-powered submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) has arrived in Busan, South Korea, U.S. Pacific Fleet announced today in a written statement.
At 170m (560feet) long, the USS Michigan is one of the world’s largest submarines.
The submarine provides the Navy with “unprecedented strike and special operation mission capabilities from a stealthy, clandestine platform,” the U.S. Navy said in the statement.
The vessel is also carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles: the kind used in early April’s attack on the Shayrat airbase in Syria by the U.S. navy.
“USS Michigan can carry up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles. The submarine was originally designed to launch nuclear missiles but was converted,” Moon Keun-sik of the Korea Defense and Security Forum (KODEF) told NK News.
“The missiles can fly and target a specific window [in a building] and can travel up to 1500 miles… Along with the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, [the U.S.] is showing that they can attack [the North] secretly.”
The Nimitz-class USS Carl Vinson, which North Korea state media yesterday described as a “gross animal” the DPRK could sink with “a single strike”, crossed the Philippine Sea and conducted a bilateral exercise with the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces on Sunday.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, which visited the Republic of Korea (ROK) in mid-March before heading to maneuvers in the Indian Ocean, is now returning to the Korean Peninsula.
During a regular briefing held on Monday, the South Korean Ministry of National Defense (MND) said the U.S. and South Korean military were discussing the possibility of carrying out joint military drills with the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier.
The visit of the USS Michigan comes amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula: the White House announced on Monday that top officials of the Trump administration will hold a rare briefing on the situation on Wednesday.
All 100 U.S. Senators were asked to participate in the briefing at the White House, which will be given by Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, and chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford.
North Korea on Tuesday celebrated the 85th foundation anniversary of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and staged the large-scale artillery drill around Wonsan region to mark the occasion, the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said.
South Korea’s Acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn urged South Korea to “remain vigilant” against a possible sixth nuclear test by the North at a cabinet meeting on Tuesday morning, saying that the North would face “unprecedented” measures if it engaged in “reckless provocation.”
MESSAGE TO NORTH KOREA?
But while U.S. Naval Forces Korea suggested that the arrival of the submarine was related to the situation on the Korean Peninsula, calling it proof of the “steadfast” U.S.-South Korean alliance, the U.S. Army insisted it was “a routine visit during regularly scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific”.
NK News Director of Intelligence John Grisafi said the announcement of the submarine’s deployment is unlikely to be a sign of preparations for any kind of military action.
“Normally, a navy does not publicize the locations and movements and submarines and doing so would reduce one of the biggest advantages of such a vessel,” Grisafi told NK News. “The primary reason for announcing a submarine’s presence is to serve as a tool of public diplomacy, as a show of resolve and reassurance to allies and a deterrent to adversaries.”
Amid an ongoing war of words with Pyongyang, President Trump held a phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping to discuss North Korean issues, the White House said on Monday, with Trump criticizing the North’s “continued belligerence.”
Edited by Oliver Hotham
Featured Image: U.S. Pacific Fleet, File photo of USS Michigan (SSGN 727)
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