U.S. Carrier Calls in Busan Amidst Heightened Tensions With N. Korea

USS Ronald Reagan arrives in Busan, September 23 (USN)

Published Sep 23, 2022 7:10 PM by The Maritime Executive

The nuclear-powered carrier USS Ronald Reagan is in South Korea for joint military drills amidst rising tensions in the Korean peninsula due to threats from North Korea.

The U.S Navy announced that Ronald Reagan and Carrier Strike Group 5 warships USS Chancellorsville and USS Barry docked at a naval base in the southern port city of Busan, the first visit to Busan in nearly five years and the first to South Korea in nearly four years.

The visit comes barely two months after North Korea leader Kim Jong-un warned during the commemoration of the Korean War Anniversary that the country was ready for any military confrontation with the U.S, adding that Washington’s military activities in the Korean peninsula are bringing the region to the “brink of war." North Korea has strongly denounced U.S military deployments and joint drills with South Korea, terming them as rehearsals for war and proof of hostile policies by the two allies.

Strike Group Commander Rear Adm. Buzz Donnelly said the Ronald Reagan’s visit is of strategic importance to the U.S and South Korean relationship and is a clear demonstration of Washington’s commitment to the alliance.

“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,” he said.

North Korea has fired more than 30 missiles in 18 rounds of tests this year with concerns that the communist regime is prepared to conduct its seventh nuclear test this year.

The joint drills will be the first involving a U.S. aircraft carrier in the region since 2017, when the U.S. sent three aircraft carriers including the Reagan for naval drills with South Korea in response to North Korean nuclear and missile tests.

Part of the activities in South Korea will also involve more than 200 of the ship’s 4,900 sailors participating in community relations projects, which are scheduled at local orphanages and temples.

The Ronald Reagan is permanently deployed to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations, based in Yokosuka. She is America's sole overseas-homeported carrier.