Amid tensions with North Korea, the USS Cheyenne arrived in South Korea Tuesday, reportedly to replenish supplies.
Washington has not yet revealed the Los Angeles-class nuclear-power fast attack submarine’s mission, but a military official told Yonhap News Agency that the Cheyenne is not scheduled to participate in any military exercises. However, some observers suspect that the submarine’s arrival in South Korea is another show of force in response to North Korean aggression.
The Cheyenne, armed with Tomahawk cruise missiles and Harpoon anti-ship missiles, drilled with Japan’s Martime Self Defense Force last month.
During a phone conversation with the President of the Philippines Rodrigo Duterte in late April, President Donald Trump assured his Filipino counterpart that the U.S. is prepared to handle North Korea. “We have two submarines – the best in the world – we have two nuclear submarines – not that we want to use them at all,” Trump said at the time. It is believed that the president was referring to the USS Michigan, an Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine, and the USS Cheyenne.
The USS Michigan stopped in the port city of Busan towards the end of April, signaling the strength of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. The U.S. also has two Nimitz-class aircraft carriers, the USS Carl Vinson and the USS Ronald Reagan, operating in the area.
North Korea has repeatedly threatened to sink American aircraft carriers and turn U.S. submarines into “underwater ghosts.”
North Korea has launched a dozen missiles since Trump took office, and among those were three new missiles. The Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile is believed to be able to reach Guam. Some observers suspect that it may be the predecessor to an eventual North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile.
The U.S. military recently conducted a successful intercept test, eliminating a mock ICBM fired from the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands in the Pacific with an interceptor launched from Vandenberg Air Force Base in California.
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