For the fourth time since October, the United States has been keen to demonstrate its military might, particularly its most devastating capabilities:
At the latest this week, it happened again. Then the US Navy published a picture of the submarine “USS Tennessee”, which is a nuclear-powered submarine equipped with ballistic nuclear missiles.
Australian Online Newspaper He describes the post as “unusual” and the photo as a “warning” to China under Xi Jinping and Russia under Vladimir Putin.
It could be a sign
NTNU professor Joe Jacobsen, an expert in international relations, wouldn’t exactly use it the Words but believes the photo could be a signal from the US authorities.
– We are in a battle for control of the oceans, and this may be a signal from the Americans that they are ready for that battle, Jacobsen tells Dagbladet.
It is unclear if the reference is directed at individual countries, but it is quite clear which countries the United States considers its greatest adversaries:
– The order is clear: China is at the top, followed by Russia, says NTNU professor.
The USS Tennessee is one of 18 Ohio-class submarines. All of them are powered by nuclear reactors, and can spend a significant amount of time under water.
On average, submarines are at sea 77 days at a time, According to the US Navy. Subs are also very quiet.
In other words, they can move around the world undetected.
This is why submarines are also an important part of the US nuclear arsenal, says NTNU professor Jacobsen:
– The United States and many other nuclear states have the so-called nuclear triad: they have nuclear weapons at sea, on land, and in the air. These submarines are an important part of the trinity. If everything goes well, it is these submarines that will help deter opponents, and in the worst case, they will strike, he says.
The dynamics are changing
Demonstration of these capabilities has not been prioritized by the US authorities in recent times. Now it may seem that this is about to change.
– It’s a sign that nuclear weapons are still very important, something they weren’t to the same degree 10 or 15 years ago. Americans are traditionally superior militarily, and have benefited from downplaying the role of nuclear weapons for many years. Now they probably have a greater need to dust off some doctrines and plans, Jacobsen says.
The reasons for this are the security situation in the world.
– Russia invaded Ukraine and is actually using nuclear weapons as a kind of shield. In a few years, China is expected to have nearly 1,000 nuclear weapons. Nuclear weapons are back, of course. Then the dynamic also changes for Americans, says prof.
However, it is not the case that the US authorities, by publishing photos of their nuclear-powered submarines, “reveal” something top secret.
– The main task is not to be exposed, but that all opponents of the United States know about these submarines and their capabilities. Most of them are docked at all times, but they always have someone overboard. It is precisely because of this, says Jacobsen, that the United States should always be able to retain some capabilities, if attacked.
Leftovers of the Cold War
The main function of nuclear weapons is the same today as it was during the Cold War, says NTNU professor:
This is a relic of the Cold War. He adds that the main function of nuclear weapons is still deterrence.
In the photo in question there is also a British submarine, which has many of the same characteristics as the American submarine. Like the Americans, the British also have one submarine at sea at all times.
– Perhaps the British are indicating that they are still a nuclear power. After the Cold War, the British disarmed, and had only nuclear weapons on board submarines, says Jacobsen.
The last photo was taken somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.
The previous three photos, published since October, were taken in the Arabian Sea, the Indian Ocean and Gibraltar, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.
We must be keenly aware of the oceans as battlegrounds moving forward, primarily diplomatically and economically. It will be a battle for long-term control, says Jacobsen, and to prevent the other side from taking control.
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