Navy chief visits U.S. naval base housing nuclear submarines

SEOUL, South Korea's top naval officer visited a key naval submarine base in the United States for the first time and stressed the need to strengthen ties against growing North Korean threats, the South's Navy said Sunday. Adm. Yang Yong-mo, chief of naval operations, visited the Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay in Georgia, a southeastern coastal base home to key nuclear submarines, on Friday (local time), according to the Navy. It marks the first time for a South Korean Navy chief to visit the base, which operates nuclear ballistic missile submarines (SSBN), a key U.S. strategic asset. SSBN is a sea-based leg of the U.S. nuclear triad that also includes intercontinental ballistic missiles and strategic bombers. Yang took a tour aboard the docked Ohio-class ballistic missile submarine USS Alaska (SSBN-732) before meeting U.S. Navy officials to discuss the allies' combined exercises and ways to boost cooperation in deterring North Korea's nuclear and missile threats. The two sides reaffirmed the U.S.' firm commitment to provide extended deterrence to South Korea "utilizing the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear," the Navy said. On Thursday, Yang also met with his U.S. counterpart, Adm. Lisa Franchetti, to discuss North Korea and maritime cooperation. Franchetti underscored Washington's ironclad security commitment to the South and highlighted the need for both navies to improve interoperability and combined readiness in the face of an increasingly challenging security environment. "Using the full range of U.S. defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, missile defense and other advanced non-nuclear capabilities, the U.S. will continue to provide extended deterrence for the ROK," she said, referring to the South by its official name, the Republic of Korea. Source: Yonhap News Agency