The US Navy confirmed Friday that two of its aircraft carriers are operating in the Western Pacific region amid unrelenting tensions on the Korean Peninsula over the North's provocation.
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) and its Carrier Air Wing Five, featuring fighter jets and early warning aircraft, began its spring patrol earlier this week, according to the Pacific Fleet.
They are currently focused on "flight deck and carrier qualifications," as the flattop, which has its homeport in Japan, resumed its mission after months of regular maintenance, it added.
USS Ronald Reagan (Yonhap)
Another US naval strike group, led by the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), has been also operating in waters near Korea since late last month.
The Vinson of the 3rd Fleet, headquartered in San Diego, reportedly had its regional mission extended through the end of June following the North's ballistic missile test last weekend.
It's not routine for the US to deploy two aircraft carriers simultaneously in a single theater abroad.
"USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan are in the Western Pacific, but they are not in close proximity to each other," the Pacific Fleet said in a statement.
Earlier in the day, a government source here said the two may hold joint drills with South Korea's Navy in the East Sea early next month.
The allies are in consultations on the exact schedule, the source said on the condition of anonymity, adding, "The Reagan is likely to enter the East Sea around the end of this month."
South Korea's military officials said the reclusive North apparently stands ready to conduct another nuclear test. They are concerned as well that it will test-fire a long-range rocket in the near future. (Yonhap)