S. Korea, US to hold joint Navy drills

Sailors stand in formation waiting to bring the ship to life during the commissioning ceremony for the Virginia-class attack submarine USS Washington at Naval Station Norfolk

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The drill is slated for October 16 and will include the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier as well as South Korean vessels.

During the visit sailors will experience the culture and history of South Korea as well as foster outstanding relations between the US Navy, Korean military and the local Busan community.

But the port call comes at a time of escalating tensions between the United States and North Korea, which has stepped up the pace of its nuclear weapons program.

"Both the South Korean and U.S. Navy will firmly maintain a combined maritime defense posture with a strong will to immediately repulse any kind of enemy provocations to protect the Republic of Korea".

South Korea will field a Sejong the Great-class destroyer, P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, F-15k, FA-18 and A-10 fighter jets, as well as Lynx and AW-159 Wild Cat naval choppers.

It will also conduct combined joint operations and exercises with ROK Navy, U.S. Seventh Fleet, ROK Air Force, U.S. Pacific Air Forces' 7th Air Force and U.S. Eighth Army for the objective of continuing the United States' national policy and commitment to the U.S. - ROK alliance and the region.

The training is aimed at promoting "communications, interoperability, and partnership in the (US) 7th Fleet area of operations", the fleet said.

And Washington has agreed to deploy so-called strategic assets in and around South Korea on a more regular basis to provide better deterrence against the North.

The vessel is carrying Tomahawk cruise missiles, used by the U.S.in the early April attack on Syria's Shayrat airbase.

The deployment of US bombers, submarines and aircraft carriers to the peninsula always infuriates the North, which considers it a sign of aggression and signal of preparations for an invasion.

The Los Angeles-class attack submarine the USS Tucson (SSN 770) pulled into the U.S. Fleet Activities Chinhae base on October 7 "as part of its deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region", the U.S. Navy said on Tuesday.

The 560-foot-long USS Michigan is armed to the teeth with tactical missiles and is capable of launching strikes and supporting missions by special operation forces, a statement said.

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