Three U.S. flattops ready for rare joint drill this week near peninsula

Lim Chang-won Reporter() | Posted : November 9, 2017, 11:28 | Updated : November 9, 2017, 11:28

[Yonhap Photo]

In a show of force against North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, three American aircraft carriers, backed nuclear submarines and destroyers, will conduct a rare joint drill this week near the Korean peninsula, following a Northeast Asia trip by U.S. President Donald Trump.

This would be the first sea drill involving three American flattops together near the Korean peninsula, the South's defense ministry said, adding South Korea plans to mobilize warships for the exercise in waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula.

"Consultations are under way between South Korea and the United States for a joint exercise," ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told reporters.

The three carriers -- USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt -- will stage "coordinated operations" in international waters from Saturday till next Tuesday, according to the 7th Fleet. The flattops are leading strike groups also involving nuclear-powered submarines and destroyers.

"It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three," U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander Adm. Scott Swift said in a statement.

There have been unconfirmed reports that Trump may board one of the carriers in person. In a speech at South Korea's parliament on Wednesday, Trump launched a direct attack on North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, but there has been no official response from Pyongyang.

Following North Korea's missile launch over Japan in mid-September, Kim threatened to take the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history", snubbing Trump as a "deranged dotard" in response to his insulting remarks.

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