SEOUL, Oct. 10 (UPI) — U.S. and South Korean naval forces conducted an unprecedented joint exercise in waters on both sides of the Korean peninsula to warn North Korea.
The exercise held on Monday, the 71st anniversary of the founding of Pyongyang’s Workers’ Party, included the deployment of more than 50 naval vessels, South Korean news service Edaily reported.
The Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier, the USS Ronald Reagan, took part in the drills, alongside the South Korean Aegis destroyer King Sejong, several submarines and warships including Ticonderoga-class Aegis missile cruisers, P-3, P-8 maritime patrol aircraft, Apache helicopters and FA-18 Hornet fighter jets.
The “Invincible Spirit 2016” drills are to be held until Saturday to demonstrate preparedness for possible North Korea provocations, including nuclear and missile tests that could occur in the coming weeks.
The USS Ronald Reagan in particular is expected to place considerable pressure on North Korea, South Korean news service News 1 reported. The warship, commissioned in 2003, is one of the newest nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, alongside the USS George H.W. Bush, and can carry more than 80 fighter jets and other aircraft for combat.
A South Korean military official told Edaily the U.S. plan is to “increase the level of military pressure on North Korea, by taking steps after the deployment of the USS Ronald Reagan to send other major strategic weapons.”
Last week analysts said North Korea activity was continuing at the Punggye-ri nuclear site where Pyongyang conducted its fifth test on Sept. 9, and other activity was recently detected at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station in Tongchang-ri, North Pyongan province.