The North Korean regime headed by Kim Jong-Un seems rattled by the presence of the USS Michigan near the Korean peninsula.
The former doomsday "boomer" was once loaded with Trident nuclear ballistic missiles but has since gone retro for a more conventional role, including the transport of elite American commandos in the form of Navy SEALs.
"The moment the USS Michigan tries to budge even a little, it will be doomed to face the miserable fate of becoming an underwater ghost without being able to come to the surface," the North's propaganda website Uriminzokkiri said.
That was how the North greeted the arrival of the 560-foot, Ohio-class Michigan at the South Korean port of Busan on April 25 -- the anniversary date of the founding of North Korea's army.
The U.S. Navy let it be known that the Michigan would join the battle group of the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson for exercises off the peninsula with the South Korean navy in a show of force against North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's regime. The North issued a barrage of threats against the Vinson as well.
"The urgent fielding of the nuclear submarine in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, timed to coincide with the deployment of the super aircraft carrier strike group, is intended to further intensify military threats toward our republic," the North said.
The Michigan was commissioned in 1982 as an SSBN capable of firing Trident submarine-launched ballistic missiles with MIRV, or Multiple Independently targetable Reentry Vehicle, nuclear warheads as part of the nation's nuclear triad deterrent.
In the 1994 nuclear posture review, the Navy decided it needed only 14 of the 18 SSBNs to fulfill the mission. The Michigan, Ohio, Florida and Georgia were converted into guided-missile submarines, or SSGNs, for conventional roles.
The Michigan entered the shipyard for conversion in 2004 and was delivered back to the fleet in 2006. It now has tubes to launch up to 154 Tomahawk cruise missiles with 1,000-pound conventional warheads and berthing for as many as 60 Navy SEALs, who could be sent on covert missions from a special drydock mounted behind the sub's sail.
Navy fact sheets say that the Tomahawk land-attack cruise missiles have been loaded in seven-shot Multiple-All-Up-Round Canisters (MACs) in up to 22 missile tubes.
The 38-foot long Dry Dock Shelter (DDS) allows SEALs to deploy while submerged aboard Seal Delivery Vehicles -- free-flooding mini-subs for covert missions.
Richard Sisk can be reached at email@example.com.