January 29, 2023

USS Nevada: US Navy ballistic missile submarine rarely seen in Guam

The USS Nevada-powered Ohio-class nuclear-powered submarine carrying 20 Trident ballistic missiles and dozens of nuclear weapons was towed into a naval base on the U.S. Pacific island on Saturday. This is the first arrival of a ballistic missile submarine to Guam since 2016 – sometimes referred to as the “boomer” – the second such announcement since the 1980s.

“Port voyage strengthens cooperation between the United States and its allies in the region, demonstrating US capability, flexibility, preparedness and continued commitment to Indo-Pacific regional security and stability,” the U.S. Navy report said.

The movements of the 14 Boomers in the U.S. Navy are generally kept secret. Nuclear power means that ships can be submerged for several months at a time, and their endurance is limited only by the materials needed to sustain their crew of more than 150 sailors.

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

It is rare for someone to be photographed outside the ports of Bangor, Washington and Kings Bay, Georgia. The mystery surrounding the ballistic missile submarines makes them the “most important survival leg of the nuclear triangle”, including the Shiloh-based ballistic missiles and nuclear-capable bombs such as the B-2 and B-52 on US soil.

But tensions develop between The United States and China on the status of Taiwan’s Autonomous Islands, And as North Korea has intensified missile tests, Washington could issue a statement with its ballistic missile submarines, which analysts say could not be by Beijing or Pyongyang.

“It sends a message – purpose or not: we can park 100-odd nuclear weapons at your doorstep, you will not know it or do much about it. And the opposite is not true and will not. Stay for a while,” said the former U.S. Navy submarine captain now. Said Thomas Schugart, a researcher at the New American Defense Center.

North Korea’s ballistic submarine program is in its infancy, and China’s estimated six ballistic missile submarines have been dwarfed by the U.S. Navy.

China’s ballistic missiles do not have the capabilities of American boomers, according to a 2021 analysis by experts from the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

CSIS researchers wrote in August that China’s Type 094 ballistic missiles are twice as noisy as U.S. submarines, so they are much easier to detect and carry fewer missiles and warships.

Aside from the political signal, the presence of USS Nevada in the region offers another opportunity, said Alessio Badlano, a professor of war and strategy at King’s College London.

“Having these types of boats – especially in training and training – adds an important opportunity to learn how to hunt down other actors in the region,” Badlano said.

“DPRK (North Korea) is continuing the development of such sites and China is already deploying them. Improving the capabilities to monitor them is just as important as using them as a strategic deterrent,” he said.

Finally a U.S. Navy Boomer visited Guam in 2016, When USS Pennsylvania stopped there.

Analysts say tensions have risen significantly across the Indo-Pacific since then, and that there could be several similar military scenes from Washington in the current context.

“This deployment (Indo-Pacific) reminds us of nuclear regulation at sea, and when it is out of the broader public discourse, we can see more of it in the development of regional strategic balance,” Patalno said.