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US guided-missile destroyer visits S. Korea

March 5, 2023 - 21:36 By Yonhap
This photo from the web site of the US Pacific Command shows Cmdr. Charles Cooper (left), commanding officer of USS Rafael Peralta, greeting Korean military officers during a scheduled port visit to the southern island of Jeju on Feb. 27, 2023. (Yonhap)

A US guided-missile destroyer visited South Korea's southern island of Jeju last week, the US Pacific Command said Sunday, in an apparent show of force and a warning to North Korea against missile provocations.

It said the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Rafael Peralta docked at Jeju on Monday last week and left the island Friday after a "scheduled port visit."

Rafael Peralta, the 9,200-ton forward-deployed vessel commissioned in 2017, is the US 7th Fleet's principal surface force, capable of a variety of missions from intercepting low- and high-altitude missiles and attacking fighter jets to conducting anti-submarine warfare with two MH-60 Seahawk helicopters on board.

Its Jeju stay coincides with the visit of the 6,000-ton Los Angeles-class fast attack submarine USS Springfield to the southern port of Busan from Feb. 23-March 1.

"Rafael Peralta's visit underscores the strategic importance of Republic of Korea to an enduring free and open Indo-Pacific by enabling presence, assured access, and defense to the global commons," the US Pacific Command said in a statement posted on its web site. "Visits with the Republic of Korea allows the US Navy to strengthen relationships with like-minded Allies and improve interoperability between the two countries."

Republic of Korea is the official name of South Korea.

The disclosure of the United States' latest destroyer's deployment to the South appears intended at sending a stern warning to North Korea following repeated missile provocations.

North Korea has strongly protested the US deployment of its strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula and the allies' combined drills.