A rare announcement reveals the deployment of an Ohio-class submarine to US Central Command

An Ohio-class submarine has been deployed to the US Central Command area of ​​responsibility, the command announced on social media, Sunday, November 5, 2023. (US Central Command)

The US military revealed on Sunday that an Ohio-class submarine had deployed to the US Central Command’s area of ​​responsibility, which includes the Middle East.

It is rare for the Ministry of Defense to publish the movements of its submarines. The short announcement, made on X, formerly known as Twitter, provided few details, including the name of the ship and whether it was carrying cruise missiles or nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles.

The notice comes two days after the Navy announced that two aircraft carrier strike groups — Gerald R. Ford and Dwight D. Eisenhower — launched aircraft and practiced missile defense during a three-day exercise in the Mediterranean.

The show of force coincides with high-level diplomacy aimed at preventing a broader war in the Middle East.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken traveled to the Middle East on Sunday for diplomatic talks with regional leaders, including Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in the West Bank and Iraqi Prime Minister Muhammad Shiaa al-Sudani in Baghdad.

Blinken stressed that the United States “supports Israel’s right to defend against Hamas,” but noted that how this goal is achieved is “important.”

“Israel must take all possible measures to prevent civilian casualties,” Blinken said during a joint press conference with Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry and Jordanian Foreign Minister Ayman Safadi in Amman on Saturday.

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Arms Control Association Director Darryl Kimball said Central Command’s short announcement about the submarine was not entirely clear.

“At a time of great tension in the region, vague announcements of nuclear force movements are not necessarily helpful and can be misunderstood by adversaries,” he said in an email to Stars and Stripes on Monday.

This is not the first time that a US ballistic missile submarine has been deployed to Central Command. Gen. Michael Corella, Central Commander, boarded the USS West Virginia at an undisclosed location in the Arabian Sea, according to an Oct. 20, 2022, command news release.

The Ohio-class ships come in two variants, carrying either guided missiles such as the Tomahawk cruise missile or those carrying nuclear-capable ballistic missiles.

Four Ohio-class guided-missile submarines can carry up to 154 Tomahawk missiles with a range of up to 1,000 miles. Fourteen nuclear submarines can carry up to 20 ballistic missiles with a range of up to 4,000 miles.

The United States last announced a submarine visit last July, when the USS Kentucky deployed to South Korea for a port visit, the first visit by a nuclear-capable US submarine to the country in 42 years.

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