Three U.S. aircraft carriers set for joint drill near Korea

Three U.S. aircraft carriers will soon conduct a rare combined exercise in the Western Pacific, the U.S. military announced Thursday, as President Donald Trump is traveling to Asia.

Three U.S. aircraft carriers -- USS Nimitz, USS Kitty Hawk, and USS John C. Stennis -- steam in formation during a 2007 training exercise in the Western Pacific in this photo released by the 7th Fleet. (Yonhap)

Three U.S. aircraft carriers -- USS Nimitz, USS Kitty Hawk, and USS John C. Stennis -- steam in formation during a 2007 training exercise in the Western Pacific in this photo released by the 7th Fleet. (Yonhap)

The three carriers -- USS Ronald Reagan, USS Nimitz and USS Theodore Roosevelt -- are also expected to train together with South Korea's Navy in the East Sea.

They plan to 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 advanced destroyers.

It's the first time that the U.S. will have operated three of its 11 carriers simultaneously in the area since 2007. Such a move is widely interpreted as a show of force against North Korea's nuclear threats and China's assertiveness in the South China Sea.

"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.

He added, "Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the U.S. Pacific Fleet's unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region."

   The fleet stopped short of revealing the exact location of the training.

A defense source said the three carriers will convene in the sea east of the peninsula.

Officials at South Korea's Ministry of National Defense dismissed the possibility of a trilateral practice exercise with Japanese warships.

"There's no plan for combined training between the three countries -- South Korea, the U.S. and Japan," the ministry's spokesman Moon Sang-gyun said at a press briefing. "Consultations are under way between South Korea and the U.S. for the combined exercise. We will let you know when the results come out."

   Trump may also board one of the carriers in person to demonstrate U.S. firepower and its regional security commitment. SOURCE FROM THE YONHAP.

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