The aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan conducted a port visit in Busan, Republic of Korea, on Friday — marking the first time the carrier has pulled into Busan in almost five years.
The Reagan, which departed its homeport in Yokosuka, Japan, in May, is slated to host several U.S. and ROK dignitaries for a “Big Top” reception while other leadership engagements will be held ashore.
Additionally, the carrier and South Korean warships are expected to complete a combined training exercise meant to boost the allies’ military readiness and to show “the firm resolve by the Korea-U.S. alliance for the sake of peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula,” according to the South Korean Navy.
The last time the U.S. and South Korea conducted joint drills together with a U.S. aircraft carrier was in 2017, when the Reagan, Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz completed naval drills with South Korea following North Korean nuclear and missile tests, the South Korean Defense Ministry said.
Meanwhile, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un announced this month that Pyongyang will not discard its nuclear weapons and missiles as his country passed a law authorizing North Korea’s military to “automatically” execute nuclear strikes against enemy forces if its leadership comes under attack.
“The Ronald Reagan Strike Group’s visit is of strategic importance to the U.S. and Republic of Korea relationship and is a clear and unambiguous demonstration of U.S. commitment to the Alliance,” Rear Adm. Buzz Donnelly, commander of Carrier Strike Group 5, said in a Navy news release. “We’re excited to return to Busan. Our presence and commitments to the Republic of Korea and the Indo-Pacific region are not new, and visits like this are part of our routine operations in the region that have helped maintain peace for more than 70 years.”
The Reagan Carrier Strike Group includes Carrier Air Wing 5, guided-missile cruisers Antietam and Chancellorsville, along with crew and staff from Destroyer Squadron 15, and staff from Carrier Strike Group 5.
The carrier concluded its last deployment in October 2021, where it operated in the 7th Fleet and in the 5th Fleet to support the withdrawal of U.S. and coalition forces from Afghanistan, and to relieve aircraft carrier Dwight D. Eisenhower at the end of its double-pump deployment.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.