Seoul: South Korea, the United States and Japan on Monday launched two-day joint naval exercises involving USS Nimitz (CVN-68) aircraft carrier in the waters south of the South Korean island of Jeju in response to the recent missile launches by North Korea, the South Korean Defense Ministry said.
“Anti-submarine exercises were organized in order to enhance the ability of South Korea, the US and Japan to respond to the growing underwater threat from North Korea, including its ballistic missiles for submarines,” the ministry said in a statement.
The drills of this type are being conducted for the first time in six months after the previous exercises that took place in September 2022, the statement read.
The joint exercises are expected to involve USS Nimitz (CVN-68) aircraft carrier and two destroyers, the ministry said, adding that South Korea would engage destroyers ROKS Yulgok Yi I (DDG-992), ROKS Choe Yeong (DDH-981) and ROKS Dae Jo-yeong (DDH-977), as well as ROKS Soyang (AOE-51) fast combat support ship. Meanwhile, Japan will engage JS Umigiri (DD-158) destroyer.
The drills will focus on detecting, tracking and fighting underwater threats from North Korea, as well as on information exchange and search and rescue operations, the statement read.
The trilateral exercises of this kind were launched for the first time in 2008 and were taking place until 2016, being renewed last year after a seven-year hiatus.
USS Nimitz (CVN-68) nuclear-powered aircraft carrier also took part in joint US-Japanese exercises from March 23-26 at the head of the ship strike force in the Philippine Sea. It later on headed to the South Korean coast where it participated in joint exercises with the ships of the South Korean Navy on March 27.
The drills have been taking place despite objections from North Korea, which has repeatedly warned the allies against building up military presence near the Korean peninsula. Pyongyang has also criticized the recent US-South Korean joint drills as a preparation for invasion.