YOKOSUKA – The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan left Yokosuka naval base on Friday for a surveillance mission as international tensions grow over North Korea.
The U.S. flattop, which departed the base in Kanagawa Prefecture shortly after noon, is expected to head toward the Korean Peninsula to conduct patrols as part of efforts to deter North Korea from conducting further missile launches and nuclear tests, sources said. It may call at a port in South Korea, the sources added.
Since North Korea’s sixth nuclear test on Sunday, the U.S. and South Korean governments have discussed plans for regular dispatches of U.S. aircraft carriers and strategic bombers to areas around the peninsula.
The Ronald Reagan, which belongs to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet and carries more than 60 aircraft, is part of Carrier Strike Group 5 and is accompanied by Aegis-equipped ships and submarines equipped with Tomahawk cruise missiles.
In June, the USS Ronald Reagan and the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson conducted joint drills in the Sea of Japan with Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyers and ASDF fighter jets.
The Reagan returned to Yokosuka in August after a three-month mission to allow crew members to rest and to replenish supplies.