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Nuclear-Powered Submarine Visits - Infographics

Photo by Daniil Zameshaev / Unsplash

The United States has deployed a nuclear-powered guided missile submarine (SSGN) to South Korea. The USS Michigan arrived a day after North Korea resumed missile tests.

In a statement, the South Korean Defence Ministry said that USS Michigan arrived in the southeastern port city of Busan on Friday (June 16). The U.S. and South Korean navies are to conduct drills on boosting their special operation capabilities and joint ability to cope with North Korea’s growing nuclear threat.

The USS Michigan is one of America’s 18 Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarines. Fourteen boats each carry up to 20 nuclear Trident D5 missiles -- each with eight multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) -- the other four vessels carry up to 154 Tomahawk land attack missiles (TLAMs) with a range of about 2,500 kilometres (1,550 miles) or other payloads instead of ballistic missiles.

Vice Admiral Johnny Ray Wolfe, Director of the U.S. Strategic Systems Programs, recently announced that Ohio-class SSGNs will get hypersonic strike missiles, with speeds greater than Mach 5 (five times the speed of sound), by 2025.

In addition, the four SSGNs can launch special forces missions from a Dry Deck Shelter (DDS). DDSs can deploy and recover special forces commandos while remaining submerged.

Since last year, the South Korean and U.S. militaries have stepped up their joint exercises in reaction to North Korea’s missile tests.

In April, President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol agreed that the United States would ensure “regular visibility of strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula” and reinforce mutual deterrence with periodic visits by U.S. nuclear ballistic missile submarines.