Adm. William Gortney, the commander, said the submarines are a “concern” and will be able to strike the United States when fully deployed with missiles and warheads.
The missile submarines are deployed in the South China Sea at a base on Hainan Island, according to a defense official.
“They’ve not loaded their missiles or begun strategic patrols,” the official said. “But we believe they are likely to begin this year.”
Gortney also stated explicitly that U.S. intelligence agencies have concluded that North Korea is capable of mounting a small nuclear warhead on its new road-mobile KN-08 intercontinental missiles. (Read more from “Northcom: China’s Three Missile Submarines a ‘Concern’” HERE)