By Hyonhee Shin
SEOUL (Reuters) – A U.S. nuclear-powered submarine arrived in South Korea on Monday, just days after the first U.S. nuclear submarine visited the country in four decades, as the two allies seek to bolster U.S. strategic assets to deter North Korea.
The USS Annapolis entered a naval base on Jeju Island in southern South Korea to load military supplies as part of an unspecified operational mission, the South Korean navy said.
“The navies of both countries plan to strengthen the combined defense posture with the arrival of the USS Annapolis and conduct exchange activities to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the alliance,” he said in a statement.
The USS Kentucky, an American ballistic missile submarine, made a stopover in South Korea last Tuesday. It was the first visit since the 1980s by a US nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) and coincided with the launch of talks between the US and South Korea to coordinate responses in the event of a nuclear war with North Korea.
North Korea launched two ballistic missiles on Wednesday hours after the USS Kentucky visited, and fired several cruise missiles again on Saturday.
The USS Annapolis is not nuclear-armed unlike the USS Kentucky and specializes in anti-ship and anti-submarine warfare, and joined trilateral anti-submarine exercises with South Korea and Japan last September in international waters off the Korean Peninsula.
(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Soo-hyang Choi; Editing by Michael Perry)