The USS Abraham Lincoln strike group is operating in waters off the Korean peninsula, the US Navy stated on Tuesday, April 12, amid tensions over North Korea’s missile launches and fears that it may begin nuclear weapons testing soon.
Commander Hayley Sims, a spokesperson for the US Seventh Fleet based in Japan, stated in a statement that the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is conducting bilateral operations with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Sea of Japan.
This is the first time a carrier group has been deployed to the waters between South Korea and Japan since 2017, and it comes as US officials are growing increasingly apprehensive that North Korea may conduct an underground nuclear test in the coming days.
The carrier was conducting “routine bilateral operations,” according to Sims, to reassure US allies and partners.
Committed to keeping the Indo-Pacific free and open.
“By demonstrating the strength of our bilateral partnerships, our training enhances the credibility of conventional deterrence,” she added.
The USS Abraham Lincoln led military exercises in the Yellow Sea on March 15, flying F-35 stealth fighters and other jets in a show of force in response to North Korea’s increased pace and magnitude of ballistic missile tests, according to the US Navy.
For the first time since 2017, North Korea conducted a thorough test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last month.
The USS Ronald Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt, and Nimitz, along with their multi-ship strike groups, deployed to the Sea of Japan, commonly known as the East Sea in Korea, during the last major flurry of ICBM and nuclear testing in 2017.
During a visit to Washington last week, advisers to South Korea’s president-elect demanded the transfer of US strategic assets such as aircraft carriers, nuclear bombers, and submarines to the Korean peninsula.
The South Korean defense ministry acknowledged that the carrier group was in international waters but refused to comment further.
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North Korea has previously described US military drills as “war rehearsals” that exacerbate tensions.