Japanese destroyers join US strike group amid tensions on Korean Peninsula

Friday, April 21, 2017
By Paul Martin

RT.com
21 Apr, 2017

Two Japanese Navy destroyers have joined the carrier strike group ‘USS Carl Vinson’ heading towards the Korean Peninsula for a massive show of force as North Korea prepares to mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its military.

The Japanese warships, destroyers ‘Ashigara’ and ‘Samidare’, left the navy’s Sasebo base early on Friday for a rendezvous with the ‘USS Carl Vinson’ group off North Korean shores, NHK reports.

Defense Ministry officials said the details of the joint US-Japan naval exercise are yet to be determined. The drill comes as an apparent show of force aimed at deterring North Korea, which will mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its military next week.

Though little is known about the naval exercise, the event was announced by the Japanese Navy earlier last week.

“Japan wants to dispatch several destroyers as the ‘Carl Vinson’ enters the East China Sea,” said one of the Japanese military sources, as cited by Reuters.

The source added that the drills would involve helicopter landings on both American and Japanese ships as well as communications training.

The American strike group includes Nimitz-class aircraft carrier ‘USS Carl Vinson’ with her air wing, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers ‘USS Wayne E. Meyer’ and ‘USS Michael Murphy’, as well as Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser ‘USS Lake Champlain’.

The strike group will operate in the region under the operational control of the 3rd Fleet as part of the 3rd Fleet Forward initiative, according to the US Navy.

Its arrival to the Western Pacific was marked by a string of conflicting statements from the White House and the Pentagon. Last week, US President Donald Trump told Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo that “we are sending an armada, very powerful. We have submarines, very powerful – far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.”

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