The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan pulled into the South Korean port of Busan on Friday ahead of joint military exercises with South Korea.
This round of military exercises takes pace against a backdrop of rising tensions with Pyongyang.
It also marks the first visit of the forward-deployed aircraft carrier to Busan since 2017. The Ronald Reagan, the flagship for the Japan-based Carrier Strike Group 5. It was accompanied by the USS Chancellorsville, a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, and USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer.
“The Ronald Reagan Strike Group’s visit is of strategic importance to the U.S. and the Republic of Korea relationship and is a clear and unambiguous demonstration of U.S. commitment to the alliance,” Rear Adm. Buzz Donnelly, the strike group commander, said in a statement. “Our presence and commitments to the Republic of Korea and the Indo-Pacific region are now new, and visits like this are part of our routine operations in the region that have helped maintain peace for more than 70 years.”
The visit marks a revival of large-scale military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea that were largely put on hold in recent years because of the COVID-19 pandemic and a desire to support diplomatic efforts with Pyongyang.
But North Korea has resumed major weapons testing and continues to issue threats against Seoul and Washington.
“As always, we look forward to every opportunity to work with our partners in the Republic of Korea,” said Capt. Fred Goldhammer, commander of the USS Ronald Reagan. The return visit “will undoubtedly further strengthen our ties.”