Advances in technology are making the nuclear deterrence mission of ballistic missile submarines increasingly challenging.

Foreign adversaries, China and Russia in particular, are designing increasingly sophisticated submarines that show they "are definitely catching up to us," said Capt. Chester Parks, commanding officer at Naval Submarine Base Kings Bay.

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America's largest military shipbuilding company has been accused of falsifying tests and certifications on stealth coatings of its submarines "that put American lives at risk," according to a complaint filed in federal court last month.

Huntington Ingalls Industries, which spun-off from Northrop Grumman in 2011, "knowingly and/or recklessly" filed falsified records with the Navy claiming it had correctly applied a coating, called a Special Hull Treatment, to Virginia-class attack submarines which would allow the vessels to elude enemy sonar, the Sept. 26 complaint alleges.

Instead, the complaint said, Huntington Ingalls' Newport News Shipbuilding facility in Virginia took shortcuts that allegedly "plagued" the class of submarines with problems, and then retaliated against the employee who spoke up about the issues.

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The Virginia-class fast-attack submarine USS California is photographed during sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean, June 30, 2011. (U.S. Navy/Chris Oxley)

GROTON, Conn. -- Defense Secretary Mark Esper, a month into the job, toured Electric Boat on Tuesday, including a walkthrough of the Navy's newest attack submarine, USS South Dakota, which is undergoing a major upgrade to make the already stealthy submarine even quieter in response to continued advancement by China and Russia in their undersea fleets.

Esper's focus of late has been on China, which is increasingly staking a claim in the Indo-Pacific region, and which recently tested multiple anti-ship ballistic missiles. He told a crowd at the Naval War College in Newport earlier in the day that the Pentagon is looking at ways to increase its presence in the region.

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(KCNA via Reuters)

SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected a large, newly built submarine, state news agency KCNA reported on Tuesday, potentially signaling continued development of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.

Kim inspected the operational and tactical data and combat weapon systems of the submarine that was built under "his special attention", and will be operational in the waters off the east coast, KCNA said.

It said the submarine's operational deployment was near.

"The operational capacity of a submarine is an important component in national defense of our country bounded on its east and west by sea," Kim said.

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US Navy

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Fourteen Russian sailors were killed when a fire broke out while their deep-water research submarine was carrying out a survey of the sea floor near the Arctic, the Russian defense ministry said on Tuesday.

A Russian media outlet, RBC, cited an unnamed military source as saying the submarine was nuclear-powered, but Russian officials made no comment on the type of vessel involved.

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A nuclear-powered Type 094A Jin-class ballistic missile submarine of the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy is seen during a military display in the South China Sea April 12, 2018. REUTERS/Stringer

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Deepening Chinese activities in the Arctic region could pave the way for a strengthened military presence, including the deployment of submarines to act as deterrents against nuclear attack, the Pentagon said in a report released on Thursday.

The assessment is included in the U.S. military's annual report to Congress on China's armed forces and follows Beijing's publication of its first official Arctic policy white paper in June.

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