Another US submarine visits South Korea in wake of North Korean launches, threats
Stars and Stripes July 24, 2023
CAMP HUMPHREYS, South Korea — A U.S. Navy fast-attack submarine arrived at South Korea’s southern island of Jeju on Monday, nearly a week after another U.S. submarine sailed into the country in response to North Korea’s ballistic missile tests.
The USS Annapolis, a Los Angeles-class submarine, sailed into South Korea’s Jeju Naval Base to replenish its ordnance, South Korean navy spokesman Jang Do-young told reporters Monday during a Ministry of National Defense briefing in Seoul.
The Annapolis is the third U.S. submarine reported to have visited the country this year, behind two larger, Ohio-class boats.
The USS Kentucky, a ballistic-missile submarine capable of carrying nuclear weapons, arrived July 18, and the USS Michigan, a guided-missile submarine, arrived June 16. Both submarines docked at Busan, the largest port in South Korea.
The Annapolis is one of 28 Los Angeles-class submarines in active service and is crewed by 143 sailors, according to the Navy’s website. It was commissioned in 1992 and is homeported at Naval Base Guam.
The boat is equipped with 12 vertical launch system tubes that fire Tomahawk cruise missiles and four tubes that fire MK-48 torpedoes, according to the Navy. It last visited South Korea in September for an anti-submarine drill with South Korean and Japanese warships, the first such drill since 2017.
The Kentucky sailed into South Korea’s Naval Fleet Headquarters on July 18 for a four-day stay to signal Washington’s commitment to defend Seoul from Pyongyang’s threats, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said in a speech at the headquarters Wednesday.
Yoon and President Joe Biden agreed in April to dispatch a U.S. ballistic-missile submarine as part of an effort to "further enhance the regular visibility of strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula” due to North Korea's provocations, according to their joint statement at the time.
North Korea has fired 17 ballistic missiles in 12 separate days of testing so far this year, including a solid-fueled Hwasong-18 intercontinental ballistic missile on Wednesday. North Korea also fired cruise missiles on Saturday; the South Korean National Defense Ministry did not disclose how many were launched.
North Korean Defense Minister Kang Sun-nam said the Kentucky’s visit to Busan could meet the conditions set by Pyongyang for a preemptive nuclear strike, according to his statement released by the state-run Korean Central News Agency on Thursday.