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U.S. and Korea navies to conduct joint maritime counter special operations exercise

13 October 2017

"The U.S. and [South Korean] navies have always enjoyed a strong relationship", said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of Naval Forces Korea.

US Navy units participating in the exercise include the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers - USS Stethem and USS Mustin.

The South Korean and USA navies will kick off high-profile joint drills off the coast of the Korean peninsula next week, the allies announced on Friday.

The deployment of USA strategic military assets to South Korea came amid the heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula following the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) sixth nuclear test in September.

The U.S. and South Korean airforces will be also mobilized, including, among others, the land-based and long-range P-3C Orion Maritime patrol aircraft, the Lynx, Wildcat, UH-60, MH-60R and AH-64E helicopters, and the F-15k, FA-18, A-10 fighter jets.

A second South Korean official who spoke anonymously said USA forces are "irregularly" being deployed to the peninsula to participate in drills and joint training, and without disclosing deployment ahead of time, according to Yonhap.

The U.S. 7th Fleet on Thursday also announced that the ROK Navy and air force, in cooperation with the U.S.'s Seventh Fleet, Pacific Air Forces' 7th Air Force, and Eighth Army will stage combined joint operations and exercises.

Washington has agreed to deploy so-called strategic assets in and around South Korea on a more regular basis to provide better deterrence against the North.

The smaller USS Tucson, which is capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles, made a port call last Saturday at the USA base in Chinhae.

The nuclear-powered submarine is capable of carrying about 150 Tomahawk missiles, according to Yonhap.

The 560-foot-long USS Michigan is armed to the teeth with tactical missiles and is capable of launching strikes and supporting missions by special operation forces, a statement said.

The smaller USS Tucson, which is capable of firing Tomahawk cruise missiles, made a port call last Saturday at the United States base in Chinhae.

U.S. and Korea navies to conduct joint maritime counter special operations exercise