MILITARY

One of the US Navy’s most powerful weapons makes a rare appearance in Guam

Jan 18, 2022, 12:51 PM
USS Nevada...
The U.S. Navy ballistic-missile submarine USS Nevada (SSBN 733) arrived at Naval Base Guam, Jan. 15. The port visit strengthens cooperation between the United States and allies in the region, demonstrating U.S. capability, flexibility, readiness, and continuing commitment to Indo-Pacific regional security and stability. USS Nevada, homeported in Naval Base Kitsap, Wash., is an Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine, an undetectable launch platform for submarine-launched ballistic missiles, providing the United States with its most important survivable leg of the nuclear triad. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Victoria Kinney)
(U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Victoria Kinney)
Originally Published: 16 JAN 22 21:35 ET

(CNN) — One of the most powerful weapons in the US Navy’s arsenal, the USS Nevada, made a rare port call in Guam over the weekend amid increasing tensions in the Indo-Pacific, analysts said.

The USS Nevada, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine carrying 20 Trident ballistic missiles and dozens of nuclear warheads, pulled into the Navy base in the US Pacific Island territory on Saturday. It’s the first visit of a ballistic missile submarine — sometimes called a “boomer” — to Guam since 2016 and only the second announced visit since the 1980s.

“The port visit strengthens cooperation between the United States and allies in the region, demonstrating US capability, flexibility, readiness, and continuing commitment to Indo-Pacific regional security and stability,” a US Navy statement said.

Movements of the 14 boomers in the US Navy’s fleet are usually closely guarded secrets. Nuclear power means the vessels can operate submerged for months at a time, their endurance limited only by the supplies needed to sustain their crews of more than 150 sailors.

The Navy says Ohio-class submarines stay an average of 77 of days at sea before spending about a month in port for maintenance and replenishment.

It’s rare for one to even be photographed outside their home ports of Bangor, Washington, and Kings Bay, Georgia. The secrecy surrounding the ballistic missile submarines makes them the “most important survivable leg of the nuclear triad,” which also includes silo-based ballistic missiles on the US mainland and nuclear-capable bombers like the B-2 and B-52.

But with tensions brewing between the US and China over the status of the self-ruled island of Taiwan, and as North Korea ramps up missile tests, Washington can make a statement with its ballistic missile submarines that neither Beijing nor Pyongyang can, according to the analysts.

“It sends a message — intended or not: we can park 100-odd nuclear warheads on your doorstep and you won’t even know it or be able to do much about it. And the reverse isn’t true and won’t be for a good while,” said Thomas Shugart, a former US Navy submarine captain and now an analyst at the Center for a New American Security.

North Korea’s ballistic submarine program is in its infancy, and China’s estimated fleet of six ballistic missile submarines is dwarfed by the US Navy’s.

And China’s ballistic missile subs don’t have the capabilities of the US boomers, according to a 2021 analysis by experts at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

China’s Type 094 ballistic missile subs are two times louder than the US subs, and therefore more easily detected, and carry fewer missiles and warheads, CSIS analysts wrote in August.

Besides the political signaling, the presence of the USS Nevada in the region presents another opportunity, said Alessio Patalano, professor of war and strategy at King’s College in London.

“The presence of this type of boat — especially in training and exercises — adds an important opportunity to learn how to hunt those of other actors in the region,” Patalano said.

“The DPRK (North Korea) is pursuing the development of such a type of a platform, and China already fields them. Honing in the skills to track them is as important as deploying them as strategic deterrent,” he said.

The last time a US Navy boomer visited Guam was in 2016, when the USS Pennsylvania stopped there.

Analysts said tensions across the Indo-Pacific have significantly increased since that time, and more such military displays are likely from Washington in the current environment.

“This deployment reminds us that the nuclear order at sea in the (Indo-Pacific) matters, and whilst often outside wider public conversation, we are likely to see more of it in the development of regional strategic balance,” Patalano said.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2022 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

Military

An F-35A Lighting II taxis at Hill Air Force Base, Utah, May 20, 2020.  Military personnel from the...
Mark Jones

Military personnel from Hill Air Force Base returned home Monday night

Military personnel returned to Hill Air Force Base Monday evening after deploying the F-35A Lightning II to Germany.
8 days ago
Camp Williams live...
Mark Jones

Camp Williams to conduct live-fire training for three days this week

Beginning on Tuesday, Camp Williams will hold live-fire training for three days this week, between 7 a.m. and 5 p.m.
9 days ago
refugees Ukraine...
Mark Jackson

Brigham City man uses time between work gigs to help refugees in Ukraine

His family says Solomon Smith is uniquely trained to bring supplies to refugees in Ukraine, after having worked in the Peace Corp in Africa.
1 month ago
(The VA Clinic in St. George.  Google Maps)...
Paul Nelson

Utah man facing federal charges after alleged death threats at VA health centers

A southern Utah man has been arrested and booked into jail after he allegedly making death threats toward VA Hospital workers.
2 months ago
Hill night flying...
Simone Seikaly

Hill fighter jets conducting night-flying operations through April 11

Night flying operations out of Hill Air Force Base are a readiness requirement that allows pilots to practice all-weather flying.
2 months ago
Brig. Gen. Tyler B. Smith. Photo credit: Utah National Guard...
Mark Jones

Utah National Guard to hold retirement ceremony for one of its own

The Utah National Guard will celebrate the career of Brig. Gen. Tyler B. Smith at a retirement ceremony Tuesday at Camp Williams.
2 months ago

Sponsored Articles

Curb Appeal...
Price's Guaranteed Doors

How to have the best of both worlds for your house | Home security and curb appeal

Protect your home and improve its curb appeal with the latest security solutions like beautiful garage doors and increased security systems.
Prescription opioids can be disposed of during National Prescription Take Back Day...
Know Your Script

Prescription opioid misuse | How to protect your family from the opioid epidemic

Studies have shown that prescription opioid misuse has increased since COVID-19. So what do you need to know about these opioids?
...

Tax Tuesday: The Most Common Mistakes People Make When Filing Their Taxes

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: How will last year’s child tax credits affect you?

Fortunately, for most average earners, they will not end up owing overpayments received for the Child Tax Credit in 2021.
...

Tax Tuesday: Key Information Before the Filing Deadline

Businesses can receive a credit of up to $5,000 per employee in 2020 and up to $21,000 per employee in 2021.
national heart month...
Intermountain Healthcare

National Heart Month: 5 Lifestyle Changes to Make Today to Keep You Heart Healthy

Heart disease is the leading cause of death for both men and women. One person dies every 36 seconds in the United States from cardiovascular disease
One of the US Navy’s most powerful weapons makes a rare appearance in Guam