(WASHINGTON) — The U.S. Navy has announced that it will carry out a rare exercise this weekend in the western Pacific involving three aircraft carriers. The exercise will take place in the Sea of Japan east of the Korean peninsula and is intended to send a message to North Korea of America’s security commitments in the region, according to U.S. officials.
“It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three,” said Adm. Scott Swift, U.S. Pacific Fleet commander, in a statement.
“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,” he added.
It is the first time since 2007 that the U.S. Navy has carried out such an exercise in the western Pacific; that exercise occurred off the coast of Guam.
The exercise will begin on Saturday and continue through Tuesday and will involve the USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Nimitz strike groups.
“The strike force plans to conduct air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, close-in coordinated maneuvers, and other training,” said the statement from the Navy’s 7th Fleet.
“Currently stationed in the vicinity of this peninsula are the three largest aircraft carriers in the world,” President Donald Trump said Tuesday in his address to South Korea’s National Assembly. The exercise will take place as Trump continues his visit to Asia.
The USS Reagan is permanently stationed in the region, while the Roosevelt is in the Pacific en route to the Middle East, where it will replace the Nimitz, which is headed home after ending its deployment there.
There has been speculation in recent weeks that the three aircraft carriers could be involved in a joint exercise while they were all in the region.
U.S. officials had said that an exercise involving the three aircraft carriers would send a message to North Korea of America’s security commitments to South Korea and Japan. The U.S. military has carried out other shows of force this year in response to North Korean ballistic missile launches and an underground nuclear test.
One of those shows of force occurred in early June, when the aircraft carriers USS Reagan and USS Carl Vinson operated together in the Sea of Japan following a series of North Korean missile launches.
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