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China Was Scared: Why The Navy Surfaced 3 Missile Submarines At Once

Ohio-class submarine. Image Credit: Creative Commons.

The US Navy has weapons platforms Russia and China can only dream of. And back in 2010, Washington decided to remind Beijing of that fact: What modern history has shown is that military posturing among nuclear powers will only continue to ramp up in the years ahead.

Case in point: When three of the U.S. Navy’s Ohio-class SSGNs surfaced in unison in the Pacific Ocean.

According to Forrest Morgan, an analyst for the RAND Corporation, such strategic military actions can be associated with what is known as “crisis stability”—which is the “building and posturing forces in ways that allow a state, if confronted, to avoid war without backing down.”

“In July 2010, three SSGNs surfaced nearly simultaneously in Western Pacific and Indian Ocean waters, allegedly to signal U.S. displeasure over Chinese missile tests in the East China Sea,” Morgan continues.

Local Media Take Note

Not surprisingly, what occurred in the Pacific also caught the attention of local media outlets.

“The appearance of the USS Michigan in Pusan, South Korea, the USS Ohio in Subic Bay, in The Philippines and the USS Florida in the strategic Indian Ocean outpost of Diego Garcia not only reflects the trend of escalating submarine activity in East Asia, but carries another threat as well,” Greg Torode wrote in the South China Morning Post.

“Between them, the three submarines can carry four hundred sixty-two Tomahawks, boosting by an estimated 60 percent-plus the potential Tomahawk strike force of the entire Japanese-based Seventh Fleet—the core projection of U.S. military power in East Asia. One veteran Asian military attaché, who keeps close ties with both Chinese and U.S. forces, noted that four hundred sixty-odd Tomahawks is a huge amount of potential firepower in anybody’s language,” he added.

Torode later concluded that the surfacing of the submarines “is another sign that the U.S. is determined to not just maintain its military dominance in Asia, but to be seen doing so—that is a message for Beijing and for everybody else, whether you are a U.S. ally or a nation sitting on the fence.”

More Help on the Way

Even more, firepower will be on the way as the U.S. Navy appears that it will be getting its hands on the highly anticipated next generation of nuclear-powered attack submarines in 2031, according to a recently released Congressional Research Service In Focus report.

“We are looking at the ultimate apex predator for the maritime domain,” Vice Admiral Bill Houston, head of Naval Submarine Forces, Submarine Force Atlantic, and Allied Submarine Command, said during a Navy League event this past summer.

Houston added that the subs are expected to cull the best features of the U.S. Navy’s three previous designs—the Seawolf– and Virginia-class attack submarines and the still-in-development Columbia-class ballistic-missile submarines.

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV. Follow or contact him on LinkedIn.

Written By

Ethen Kim Lieser is a Washington state-based Science and Tech Editor who has held posts at Google, The Korea Herald, Lincoln Journal Star, AsianWeek, and Arirang TV.



  1. Bob

    April 9, 2022 at 5:26 pm

    462 written in numerals would be a lot easier to follow than four hundred and sixty-two.

  2. cusfo

    April 9, 2022 at 10:30 pm

    Still in second grade?

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