A US Navy strike group led by supercarrier USS Ronald Reagan is holding exercises with Japanese naval forces near the Korean peninsula waters amid the ongoing tensions with North Korea. A Japanese destroyer is also part of the maritime exercise which is bound to antagonise Pyongyang further.
News about the scheduled naval drills comes just after the US flew strategic B-1B Lancer bombers over the Korean peninsula in a strong show of force on Tuesday (10 October) night. Tensions in the region have constantly escalated in recent months thanks to the never-ending war of words between the US and North Korea, and the addition of more military hardware is only set to further escalate matters.
Japan's military said on Wednesday (11 October) that its warship Shimkaze is participating in the drills and accompanying the Reagan in the waters around Okinawa, southwest of the Korean peninsula.
Exercises will also take place in waters around Japan's southwest island closer to North Korea, said the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF). The Japanese and American vessels taking part in the drill sailed through the strategically-important Bashi channel, the waterway between the Philippines and Taiwan, to reach Okinawa.
Following its exercises with Japanese naval forces, the Reagan, along with other US Navy destroyers which are part of the strike group, will then move to conduct joint exercises with South Korea.
Meanwhile, the US Pacific Command also announced on Tuesday (10 October) that a nuclear-powered submarine arrived in South Korea on Saturday (7 October). The Los Angeles-class attack submarine USS Tucson, based in Hawaii, has docked in South Korea's Jinhae port.
Additionally, yet another submarine – Ohio-class USS Michigan – which is one of the largest in the US Navy, is also expected to make a port call in South Korea's Busan later this weekend.
Both the submarines, which can be equipped with Tomahawk cruises missiles, are expected to be part of the exercises led by the USS Ronald Reagan.