US carrier group operating off Korean Peninsula for first time in years

Associated Press/Michael Sohn

A U.S. carrier strike group is operating off the Korean Peninsula for the first time in years, the Navy confirmed to The Hill.

Lt. Mark Langford, a U.S. Navy spokesperson, said in an emailed statement that the USS Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is in the Sea of Japan conducting bilateral operations with Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force.

Langford did not provide a timeline for when the carrier strike group arrived or for when it would leave.

“Routine bilateral operations like this one reassure our allies and partners of the U.S. commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Langford said. “Our training enhances the credibility of conventional deterrence by demonstrating the strength of our bilateral partnerships.”

South Korea’s defense ministry said it was aware of the group but did not comment further, Reuters noted in a report.

The last time the Navy carried out an exercise over the Sea of Japan was in November 2017, when the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz carriers were involved in air defense drills, sea surveillance and other drills.

News of the strike group’s arrival in the Sea of Japan comes as Washington tries to deter North Korea, which this year conducted multiple missile tests.  

On March 5, North Korea fired a ballistic missile into the sea and later in the month conducted its first intercontinental ballistic missile test since 2017.

Following the March 5 test, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said aircraft from the USS Abraham Lincoln conducted a “carrier-based air demonstration” in the Yellow Sea, which it said was a “demonstration of our resolve and commitment to our regional allies.”   

Tags Japan North Korea Sea of Japan South Korea u.s. navy

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