Kim Jong Un – North Korea’s current dictator – is threatening to destroy the USS Michigan if it gets any nearer to North Korea. The military tensions are increasing in and around the Korean Peninsula as the Trump administration positions United States forces – including submarines like the Michigan and the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson – for a potential strike on the Kim Jong Un regime.
But can Kim Jong Un and his military actually destroy the nuclear powered Michigan, the Carl Vinson or any other major U.S. Navy vessels – and what would be the result if they tried? The answer to this question can help determine whether Kim is bluffing or not.
Lead up to the Crisis
For years now, Kim Jong Un and his government in North Korea have been working furiously toward the goal of possessing both nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles capable of delivering those nuclear weapons to the United States.
As reported by the New York Times, it’s believed that Kim’s regime currently doesn’t possess a nuclear weapon small enough to be loaded onto a missile – although almost certainly North Korean scientists and engineers are working on this problem night and day. North Korea’s ballistic missile program also has a long way to go before it could actually deliver a warhead anywhere near the United States.
However, United States officials – and particularly members of the new Trump administration – feel that the current sanctions imposed to force Kim Jong Un to give up his nuclear weapons program have been ineffective so far. Worse, North Korea’s closest ally China seems to give only token support to such sanctions and has done little to actually stop the nuclear and ballistic missile programs Kim Jong Un is pursuing.
United States Military Response
In response to Kim Jong Un continuing to test ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, the United States has in recent weeks been introducing significant military hardware and personnel into the Korean Peninsula. For instance, last month the United States delivered THADD missiles to South Korea to provide an increased capability for shooting down incoming North Korean missiles.
More recently, the United States ordered the nuclear aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to head for North Korea. The carrier and its carrier group are now in position. Aircraft carriers are more than just one of the most visible military tools of the United States government; they are also one of the most effective.
However much Kim Jong Un might have been concerned about the defensive capabilities of the THADD missiles in South Korea, he must be even more concerned about the offensive capabilities of the Carl Vinson and the USS Michigan.
The USS Michigan – which Kim Jong Un is threatening to sink– is a nuclear powered vessel capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles that could precisely hone in on North Korean military installations, communication centers, infrastructure and government buildings. So it’s not surprising the North Koreans are worried about what this United States naval vessel might be ordered to do.
Vulnerability of United States Vessels
In addition to Kim Jong Un threatening to sink the USS Michigan, the Korea Herald reports that during a series of military exercises a few days ago, Kim indicated through state-controlled media that Korea would sink the aircraft carrier Carl Vinson as well.
“The world would clearly see how the U.S.’s rash, arrogant aircraft carriers turn into a lump of scrap metal and gets buried at sea, and how the country vanishes from the Earth.”
But the question is: could they actually do it? The short answer is: no. While major powers like China or Russia might possess the capabilities to get past the screen of defenses around United States aircraft carriers and actually sink one, Korea definitely does not. While it’s difficult to guess what’s going on in the head of Kim Jong Un, it’s likely that he knows this is beyond North Korea’s capabilities. But the simple truth is, even if North Korea somehow did manage to sink the USS Michigan or the Carl Vinson, the resulting retaliation would leave North Korea a wasteland.
[Featured Image by USN Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Jermaine Ralliford via Getty Images]