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US, South Korea begin first joint drill with an aircraft carrier in 5 years

South Korea, United States naval maneuver
US Navy photo of USS Ronald Reagan in South Korea

The navies of South Korea and the United States have begun their first joint maneuver involving a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier in five years.

US Navy’s Japan-based carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) got underway from Busan, Republic of Korea (ROK), on Monday after arriving there for a port visit on September 23.

The maneuver is also taking place a day after North Korea carried out a short-range ballistic missile launch, ramping up tensions ahead of the visit of US Vice President Kamala Harris to South Korea this week.

More than 20 assets from both nations will take part in the four-day drill in the East Sea. These include the aircraft carrier and major South Korean platforms, including destroyers Seoae Ryu Sung-ryong and Munmu the Great.

US Navy submarine USS Annapolis also joined the maneuver for more realistic anti-submarine warfare evolutions.

The ships and submarines are joined by US F/A-18E Super Hornets, maritime patrol aircraft from both nations, and South Korean F-15K and KF-16 fighters.

“Our combined ROK-U.S. naval force is demonstrating its strength and resolve by conducting this exercise together to build our combat readiness,” said Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, commander, Task Force (CTF) 70/CSG 5. “The Republic of Korea and US share one of the strongest alliances in the world and we grow stronger as an alliance because of our routine exercises here in South Korea and the close relationship and ties that we forge from operating at sea together.”

USS Ronald Reagan is training with the ROK Navy after starting its second patrol of the Indo-Pacific region this year on September 12. Its carrier strike group includes the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG 62), as well as Arleigh Burke-class destroyers USS Barry (DDG 52) and USS Benfold (DDG 65).