Are we ready for a nuclear attack? The nuclear threat is perhaps more real now than any time since the Cold War.
12 News' Mark Curtis was able to bring viewers on a tour of a nuclear ballistic-class submarine, the U.S.S. Kentucky.
The nuclear threat is why we weren't able to shoot video of a lot of the ship, and everything we did shoot was carefully scrutinized with at least one security officer, constantly looking over photographer Chad Bricks' shoulder.
The U.S.S. Kentucky is part of what is called the "nuclear triad." The triad are the three components of a nuclear defense system: land-based missiles fired from secret silos, B-1 bombers that can drop them from the air, and submarine-launched ballistic missiles.
Four countries have a nuclear triad: China, India, Russia and the United States.
The teeth of the U.S. nuclear triad is the submarine fleet, accounting for 70 percent of the firepower, said Commander James Hurt, of the U.S.S. Kentucky.
Commissioned: July 13, 1991
Status: Active, in commission
Length: 560 feet
Dead weight: 2055 tons
Homeport: Bangor, Washington
"We talk about the ability to reliably respond to any aggression. This leg of the triad is toughest to find," Cmdr. Hurt said. "That's where the majority of the firepower should be."
Inside, she has $2 billion of the latest high-tech equipment. Her heart beats to the rhythm of 165 of the best America has to offer.
This multi-billion-dollar technical marvel is the tip of the spear for America's defense.
Phoenix's Cody Blackburn is one of Kentucky's missile techs. Should the call come, he could be one of the men unleashing the deadliest attack the world has ever known.
"I am here to execute the orders of the president, and I will execute them when called upon," Blackburn said.
The U.S.S Kentucky has two crews. One crew is at sea, usually 70 days at a time, while the other crew trains and keeps their skills sharp on simulators.
A lot of our questions went understandably unanswered.
"Are there actually nukes here?" Mark Curtis asked.
"I appreciate your question, but I can neither confirm nor deny there are actual nuclear weapons on this ship," Cmdr. Hurt said.