Amid tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, a three-carrier U.S. naval force is finishing a multi-day exercise in the Western Pacific. Ships from Japan and South Korea joined the exercise.
North Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations said the military exercises are creating “the worst ever situation prevailing in and around the Korean Peninsula.”
B-1 bombers were also participating. The military exercises were being conducted at the same time that President Donald J. Trump was touring major capitals in Asia. He said the U.S. wants peace through strength.
The exercise features the aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz, and USS Theodore Roosevelt and includes air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, close-in coordinated maneuvers and other training.
"It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three," the U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, Navy Adm. Scott Swift, said.
"Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex,” Swift said.
He added, “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."
The exercise is the first time three carrier strike groups have operated together in the Western Pacific since exercises Valiant Shield 2006 and 2007 off the coast of Guam, according to Navy officials.
Officials point out Navy aircraft carriers more recently have conducted dual-carrier strike group operations in the Western Pacific including in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Philippine Sea.
These exercises typically happen when an aircraft carrier deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations joins with the carrier based in Japan. In this instance, the Nimitz was finishing a deployment in the 5th Fleet area -- the Persian Gulf -- and the Roosevelt was relieving it. The Reagan -- homeported in Japan -- joined the other two carriers, which are based in the Western United States.