For the first time since the late 1980s, the US Navy has dispatched a submarine equipped with nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles to the Pacific island of Guam.
The USS Pennsylvania (SSBN 735) got engaged in a “scheduled port visit” to the US territory, according to a Navy press release on Monday.
The move was considered as a gesture of support for US allies in the region, including Japan and South Korea, whose delegations had been stationed Guam, awaiting a rare tour of the submarine.
“This specific visit to Guam reflects the United States’ commitment to its allies in the Indo-Asia-Pacific, and complements the many exercises, training, operations, and other military cooperation activities conducted between the U.S. and its partner nations,” the Navy said. “Ballistic missile submarines such as USS Pennsylvania are on patrol continuously, providing a critical, stabilizing and highly effective element of the U.S. nuclear deterrence force.”
The US Navy possesses 14 Ohio-class ballistic missiles submarines like the USS Pennsylvania, which carries 24 Trident II D-5 ballistic missiles, each one carrying multiple warheads programmable to be launched at various targets.
Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanguan said in early October that “some countries seek absolute military superiority, ceaselessly strengthen their military alliances, and seek their own absolute security at the costs of other countries’ security.”
Tensions between the US and China have escalated in the wake of Washington’s increased military involvement in Asia as part of President Barack Obama’s “pivot” to the region.