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.

A crew member aboard the USS Kentucky. (Photo: Chad Bricks, 12 News)

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.

Navy crew members aboard the USS Kentucky, a ballistic-class submarine. (Photo: Chad Bricks, 12 News)

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.

A trident II D-5 ballistic missile is launched USS Kentucky during a missile test at the Pacific Test Range Nov. 7, 2015. (U.S. Navy photo)

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

The Ohio-class ballistic-missile submarine departs for strategic deterrent patrol in 2016. The boat recently completed an overhaul, which will extend the life of the submarine for another 20 years. (Photo: Mass Com. Spl. 2nd Class Amanda R. Gray)

"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.

The oil on canvas painting illustrates the support ship USNS Waters observing a missile launched from the USS Kentucky. Combat artist Morgan Ian Wilbur recounted his experience observing the test flight Nov. 7, 2015. (Photo: US Navy)

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.

Cody Blackburn, Phoenix resident and U.S.S. Kentucky missile technician. (Photo: Chad Bricks, 12 News)

"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.

Personnel aboard the Ohio-class strategic missile submarine USS Kentucky await a transport boat while transiting the Strait of Juan De Fuca. (U.S. Navy photo by Photographer's Mate 2nd Class Eli J. Medellin)

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.

Mark Curtis talkes to Cmdr. Hurt about the firepower aboard the U.S.S. Kentucky. (Photo: Chad Bricks, 12 News)