A Trident II D5 missile is launched from a submarine in 2014. Navy photo

The Navy reported an Ohio-class submarine test fired four Trident II D5 nuclear-capable ballistic missiles off the coast of California over a three-day period last week.

The tests come as the San Diego-based USS Carl Vinson enters the disputed waters of the South China Sea on a routine patrol.

The missiles were unarmed and all launches were conducted over the Pacific Test Range. There were several reports of bright lights in the sky during the test period.

When armed, the three-stage Trident missiles carry eight independently targeted nuclear warheads. Each of the Navy’s fleet 18 Ohio-class submarines patrols with 24 of the missiles, which have a range of 4,600 miles.

The name of the submarine was not released, but the Navy said it was assigned to Submarine Group 9. The tests were described as part of a follow-on commander’s evaluation test.

Since its introduction to the fleet in 1989, the Trident II D5 missile has completed 165 successful test flights.

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