11 August 2017

News Story: U.S. cautious about dual-supercarrier operations near Korea

By Lee Chi-dong

SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Yonhap) -- Despite heightened military tensions on the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. Navy has no plan yet to send another aircraft carrier here, informed sources said Thursday.

They were responding to local news reports that the United States seems to be pushing for rare dual-carrier operations near Korea this month against the North's repeated intercontinental ballistic missile launches and war threats.

The forward-deployed flattop, Ronald Reagan, has just returned to its home port in Yokosuka, Japan, from a three-month routine patrol.

"There's no plan for the deployment of another aircraft carrier in the vicinity of the Korean Peninsula this month," a defense source said, dismissing the reports that the U.S. is expected to send the USS Carl Vinson, homeported in San Diego, to the region in August.

Another source said it's "not an easy decision" to transfer such a carrier with thousands of crew members and dozens of warplanes on board, although the USS Nimitz can be a more realistic alternative for brief regional deployment if needed.

The U.S. has 11 supercarriers in active service to cover the global theaters and just nine of them are operational as the two others are going through regular maintenance, the source pointed out.

Observers raise the possibility that the U.S. will instead dispatch other "strategic assets" here like a nuclear-powered submarine on the occasion of the allies' major annual combined drills to open later this month.

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