SEOUL — For the second time in less than a month, a U.S. Navy vessel likely to draw scrutiny from North Korea and China is scheduled to pay a port visit to the South Korean city of Busan.
The Virginia-class attack submarine USS Hawaii will visit Busan, on the southeastern coast of the Korean peninsula, on Friday.
The Hawaii, which last visited Busan in November 2010, is on a scheduled deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
The Pearl Harbor-based submarine has a crew of more than 120 and, according to a U.S. Forces Korea release, “is one of the Navy’s newest and most technologically sophisticated submarines,” making it better suited than others to navigate in the often shallow waters found in parts of Asia with disputed boundaries, including the South China Sea and the waters off the Korean peninsula.
The capabilities of the U.S. and South Korea navies have been a subject of significant attention in Asia since the 2010 sinking of the South’s Cheonan warship in the Yellow Sea, blamed on a torpedo from a North Korea submarine, in which 46 sailors died.
Late last month, the USS George Washington aircraft carrier visited Busan after participating in separate exercises with the navies of South Korea and Japan nearby.
Officials from North Korea and China have publicly criticized the U.S. Navy for putting its high-profile vessels, like the George Washington, through their paces anywhere close to the countries’ maritime borders.