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Eric Talmadge, Associated Press
In this Nov. 10, 2011 photo, Cmdr. Andrew Peterson stands by his USS Oklahoma City during the super high-tech submarine's port call in Yokohama near Tokyo. It's getting a bit more crowded under the sea in Asia, where Peterson commands one of the world's mightiest weapons: a $2 billion nuclear submarine with unrivaled stealth and missiles that can devastate targets hundreds of miles (kilometers) away.

YOKOSUKA, Japan — It's getting a bit more crowded under the sea in Asia, where Andrew Peterson commands one of the world's mightiest weapons: a $2 billion nuclear submarine with unrivaled stealth and missiles that can devastate targets hundreds of miles (kilometers) away.

Super high-tech submarines like Cmdr. Peterson's USS Oklahoma City have long been the envy of navies all over the globe — and a key component of U.S. military strategy.

But America's submarine dominance in the Pacific is facing its biggest challenge since the Cold War.

Nearly every Asian country with a coastline is fortifying its submarine fleet amid territorial disputes stirred up by an increasingly assertive China and the promise of bountiful natural resources.