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Carl Vinson arrives in Busan for joint military drills

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Published : 2017-03-15 18:17
Updated : 2017-03-15 18:20

The US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson arrived at a port in Busan on Wednesday to take part in the annual military drills by Seoul and Washington in a naval show of force against North Korea’s missile and nuclear threats.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier made a port call at a naval base in South Korea’s Fleet Command, along with the Carrier Air Wing 2 and USS Wayne E. Meyer destroyer, which constitute Carrier Strike Group 1. The group left San Diego on Jan. 5 and arrived in the South China Sea last month.

Rear Adm. James Kilby, commander of USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group 1, holds a news briefing in front of the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier, which arrived at South Korea’s Fleet Command in Busan on Wednesday. (Yonhap)

The 5,500-sailor carrier will work with the South Korean Navy to conduct field-training Foal Eagle exercise in the waters around the Korean Peninsula. The two militaries have routinely conducted joint exercises, including anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare drills and counter-mine planning, said the US Navy.

“Our presence here today is a clear signal of our commitment to defend this nation and region,” Rear Adm. James Kilby, commander of the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group 1, told reporters during a press conference held in front of the aircraft carrier.

The commander added that the arrival of Carl Vinson was aimed to prevent North Korea’s missile and nuclear provocations, stressing that Pyongyang’s military threat has “increased with each senseless act of aggression.”

Earlier in the day, North Korea’s state-run media Rodong Shinmun lashed out at the allies’ joint military drills, calling them “rehearsals for the second Korean War.” The communist regime has warned it would stage “merciless ultra-precision strikes” if the carrier violates its sovereignty.

Besides Foal Eagle, Seoul and Washington conducted computed-based command-post Key Resolve exercise, which have reportedly included war scenarios in which the US special warfare units remove North Korea’s leadership and its advanced missile defense system shoots down North Korea’s ballistic missiles.

Faced with North Korea’s harsh rhetoric, the allies’ military chiefs warned that Pyongyang would conduct provocations during the joint drills in April, when the reclusive regime celebrates major political events such as the 105th birthday of its late founder Kim Il-sung, which falls on April 15.

“The ROK-US Alliance is ironclad, and the combined defense posture is firm regardless of the political situation in Korea,” Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, was quoted as telling his counterpart Gen. Lee Sun-jin during a 20-minute phone call.

By Yeo Jun-suk (jasonyeo@heraldcorp.com)