Ohio-class submarine to visit South Korea
May 16, 2023 - For the first time since the 1980s, a U.S. Navy ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) will visit South Korea. SSBNs rely on secrecy and rarely make public stops in foreign ports.
U.S. President Joe Biden and South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol jointly announced the visit by an Ohio-class submarine on April 26, part of Washington’s pledge to deploy more so-called “strategic assets” -- aircraft carriers, submarines, and long-range bombers -- to South Korea to deter the nuclear threat from North Korea.
The U.S. Navy fields 14 SSBNs, often called “boomers.” Each Ohio-class SSBN has a complement of 15 officers and 144 enlisted crew. Ohio-class submarines have 24 missile tubes but only carry 20 Trident D5 missiles with eight multiple independent re-entry vehicles (MIRVs) each.
Under New START, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty caps the number of nuclear warheads that the U.S. and Russia can deploy, and four missile tubes are deactivated. Former U.S. President Barack Obama and his Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev signed New START in 2010.
However, in February, President Vladimir Putin said Russia is suspending participation in New START with the United States after accusing the West of being directly involved in attempts to attack its strategic air bases.
A senior U.S. official, speaking anonymously, told reporters that there is “no vision for any regular stationing or basing of [strategic] assets and certainly not nuclear weapons” in South Korea.