US, South Korea Begin Joint Naval Exercises In The Western Pacific

Violet Powell
November 12, 2017

According to reports, the exercise will involve seven South Korean and 11 US ships, as well as the USS Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Nimitz.

South Korea and the United States on Saturday kicked off a joint naval exercise in the Sea of Japan involving three US aircraft carriers amid heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The drills are reportedly the first of their kind since the three carrier strike groups conducted the Valiant Shield exercise off the coast of Guam in 2006 and 2007.

Just days ahead of Trump's visit to Japan, the first stop on his Asia tour, the USA sent two B-1B heavy bombers from Andersen Air Force Base on Guam for bilateral missions with South Korean Air Force fighter jets and Air Self-Defense Force warplanes.

It's the first time for the operate three of its 11 carriers simultaneously in the area since 2007.

U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Admiral Scott Swift described the training as a "rare opportunity".

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying called for restraint during a regular news briefing on Tuesday when asked about the carriers, saying the situation on the Korean peninsula was complex and severe.

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Pyongyang detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear bomb in September after months of ballistic missile tests that riled Washington and its allies Japan and South Korea.

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The three flattops are the USS Ronald Reagan, Nimitz and Theodore Roosevelt.

Units assigned to the strike force will conduct coordinated operations in worldwide waters in order to demonstrate the U.S. Navy's unique capability to operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force effort.

The U.S. Pacific Fleet has a determined and steady presence throughout the region, conducting operations for more than 70 years now.

The US Navy's announcement came just one day after US President Donald Trump revealed during his address to South Korea's National Assembly that "currently stationed in the vicinity of this peninsula are the three largest aircraft carriers in the world loaded to the maximum with magnificent F-35 and F-18 fighter jets".

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