A fast-attack U.S. nuclear submarine, which generally does its job covertly, is docked at the Yokosuka, Japan naval base this week as a show of reassurance to allies.
The USS Hawaii and its crew of 140 arrived at U.S. Fleet Activities Base Yokosuka Aug. 20 from its home, Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, to in part show Asian allies that their security remains a part of U.S. foreign policy, despite its current concentration on the Middle East. It can also be regarded as a warning to foes, including China and North Korea.
"The United States' capability used to be big and present on land but has increasingly been moved to the sea or back to the U.S. Our allies don't see us as much anymore, so they don't feel as secure anymore. We can remind them, as well as our potential adversaries that might threaten us, that we are there," said Scott Harold, a Rand Corporation analyst.
The Hawaii is a $2 billion, 377-foot long stealth submarine that carries torpedoes and Tomahawk cruise missiles, and is one of 10 in its class in the U.S. submarine fleet.
In 2012 U.S. Navy arranged for a similar sub to surface in the Scarborough Shoals, waters disputed between China and the Philippines, just to let the adversaries know it was there.
"It was a show of force in response to bad behavior," said Patrick Cronin of the Center for a New American Security. The USS Hawaii's visit to Yokohama "is not the same as the Scarborough Shoal, but the U.S. is taking a beating for looking weak and impotent and also for not ... backing up our allies."
The submarine, regarded as among the advanced in the world, was commissioned in 2007.