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(LEAD) USS Carl Vinson stages war drills with S. Korean Navy

2017/04/29 18:32

(ATTN: RECASTS headline, lead; ADDS details in paras 2-5)

SEOUL, April 29 (Yonhap) -- The USS Carl Vinson, a U.S. aircraft carrier, on Saturday started a joint naval drill with the South Korean Navy in the East Sea amid heightened tensions from North Korea's failed ballistic missile launch earlier in the morning, defense officials here said.

"South Korea and U.S. strike forces began a drill in the East Sea from 6 p.m. today against the backdrop of the current security situation," the South Korean Navy said.

No specific schedule for the rendezvous was released to the media yet, but the exercise is expected to continue until sometime next week.

At the core of the naval exercise lies the missile warning informational link exercise (LINKEX) that monitors, traces and intercepts any intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) from North Korea.

"The exercise is the follow-up of the naval exercise in the Yellow Sea between the two navies on Tuesday. It is aimed at deterring North Korea's provocations and strengthening the military readiness of the Korea-U.S. alliance," the Navy said.

It would mark the Vinson's second operation in South Korean waters in less than two months, an unusual move that comes amid military tensions in Korea.

The nuclear-powered flattop reportedly carries almost 100 aircraft. Its strike group also includes guided-missile destroyers and cruisers.

Earlier this week, the Vinson had joint drills with Japan's naval forces.

North Korea is said to be fearing the powerful U.S. strike group but its state media publicly claimed the communist nation's troops are ready to sink the aircraft carrier with a single strike.

A photo of the USS Carl Vinson (AFP-Yonhap) A photo of the USS Carl Vinson (AFP-Yonhap)