The U.S. Navy is moving a second aircraft carrier close to the Korean peninsula just days after North Korea tested a new missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.
The USS Ronald Reagan departed on Tuesday from Yokosuka, Japan and will join the USS Carl Vinson in waters off North Korea in order to carry out training exercises, defence officials said.
“Coming out of a long in-port maintenance period we have to ensure that Ronald Reagan and the remainder of the strike group are integrated properly as we move forward,” Rear Adm. Charles Williams said in a press release on Tuesday.
The Vinson arrived at the Korean Peninsula in April in anticipation of Pyongyang’s latest round of missile tests.
The Reagan is expected to eventually replace the Vinson, though it has not been confirmed how long the two carriers will stay close to North Korea for the training exercises.
Christened after the 40th President of the USA, the USS Ronald Reagan is a nuclear-powered supercarrier that carries around 4,500 crew and approximately 60 aircraft.
On Sunday, North Korea reported that it successfully test-fired a mid-range ballistic rocket that it claims could fire a nuclear warhead as far as a U.S. Air Force base located in the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam.
However, the U.S. military has expressed doubts over the claimed range of the missile.
Following a period of increased activity in missile testing in April, President Trump told Reuters that: “There is a chance that we could end up having a major, major conflict with North Korea”.
He also stated that he would like to resolve the situation diplomatically.