Three US supercarriers to conduct joint drills in waters off Korean peninsula

USS Theodore Roosevelt

The U.S. Navy announced Wednesday that it will commence rare three-carrier strike force exercises in the Western Pacific starting this weekend and coinciding with the final leg of President Donald Trump's Asia tour.

USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), along with their escorts and air wings, are set to meet off the coast of Korea for four days of exercises later this week.

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.

The exercises come after the USA and South Korea in their recent annual meeting on defensive policy agreed to expand the rotational deployment of strategic American military assets such as aircraft carriers, submarines and bombers to the peninsula.

This will be the first time the three USA aircraft carriers will conduct an exercise in the area since 2007.

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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"All relevant sides should exercise restraint, avoid irritating each other, dedicate themselves to lowering the tense situation on the peninsula, and at the same time make positive efforts to get the North Korean nuclear issue back on a track to a resolution via talks as soon as possible", Hua said, reiterating the long-held Chinese position.

APEC brings together 21 economies from the Pacific region.

The Reagan participated in the 2006 exercises, the Nimitz in 2007.

The Ministry of National Defense (MND) on Thursday confirmed to media that this will be the first time that the ROK and the US navies stage joint bilateral drills with the three aircraft carriers in waters off the east coast of the country.

"Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the U.S. Pacific Fleet's unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region".

Svilen Petrov is 31 years old marketing manager and co-Chief Editor of Maritime Herald.

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