The United States has taken the unusual step of deploying a second nuclear-power Nimitz-class aircraft carrier to patrol the waters off South Korea.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt and the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group, (TRCSG) originally headed for the Persian Gulf, have been rerouted to the area off the Korean Peninsula.
The Roosevelt Strike Group will join the USS Ronald Reagan Strike Group, already docked in the Korean port of Busan.
The Theodore Roosevelt and the Ronald Reagan are Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carriers, the most powerful warships in the world.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt, nicknamed “The Big Stick,” and the rest of TRCSG, also called Carrier Strike Group 9 (CSG-9) entered the 7th Fleet area of operations (AOO) on Oct. 23.
“Entering 7th Fleet is an exciting opportunity to integrate with other U.S. Navy units in the AOO, as well as operate with our partners and allies in the region,” said Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, commander, Carrier Strike Group Nine. “We look forward to continued partnerships that lead to mutual security and common views about operating at sea.”
The U.S. Navy website states the strike group is in the area “to conduct maritime security operations, theater security cooperation, and port visits as part of the U.S. Navy’s ongoing presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
Aboard the Theodore Roosevelt are three Navy fighter squadrons, a Marine fighter squadron, two helicopter squadrons, plus fleet support, early warning, and electronic attack squadrons.
Along with the Theodore Roosevelt is the guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill as well as the guided-missile destroyers the USS Halsey, the USS Preble, and the USS Sampson.
“USS Theodore Roosevelt is prepared to carry out the full spectrum of possible missions, from humanitarian relief to combat operations,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, Theodore Roosevelt’s commanding officer. “When a carrier leaves on deployment, we have to be ready for anything.”
The Theodore Roosevelt left San Diego on Oct. 6, scheduled to relieve the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf.
It is highly unusual for two such potent vessels to be stationed in the same area of operations (AOO.) This happened briefly in June when the USS Carl Vinson was in the area for training. The last time before that was in the 1990s.
The USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group returned to the port of Busan on Oct. 21 after five days of joint exercises with the South Korean air force and navy.
The Ronald Reagan is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group Five, which includes the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS McCampbell and USS Barry, and the Ticonderoga-class cruiser USS Shiloh.
President Donald Trump is scheduled to visit South Korea as part of a trip through Asia in November.