USS Ronald Reagan Redeploys in Response to N. Korean Missile Test

Nighttime flight operations aboard USS Ronald Reagan in the Sea of Japan, October 6 (USN)

Published Oct 6, 2022 11:14 PM by The Maritime Executive

As a response to North Korea’s decision to test-fire a ballistic missile over Japan, the carrier USS Ronald Reagan and her escorts returned to waters near the Korean Peninsula and carried out a missile-defense exercise.

On Tuesday, North Korea's military test-fired an intermediate range ballistic missile over the Japanese home islands and into the North Pacific. The rare and provocative test drew a response. 

Reagan and her strike group - consisting of USS Chancellorsville and USS Benfold - had recently left the Sea of Japan after participating in joint exercises with the South Korean and Japanese navies. On Thursday morning, the carrier strike group swiftly returned to the area and performed a missile defense exercise, joined by Japanese and South Korean destroyers.

The exercise was conducted just hours after North Korea fired two more short-range ballistic missiles in a visible escalation. The missiles landed outside Japan’s economic exclusive zone, according to Japan’s Defense Ministry.

The redeployment of USS Ronald Reagan, a key U.S strategic asset in the Pacific region, was intended as a swift show of support to U.S allies in the region.

“The re-dispatch of the carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula is highly unusual and shows the resolute will of the South Korea-US alliance to strengthen the alliance’s readiness posture against North Korea’s consecutive provocations,” said South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS).

Following the carrier’s re-deployment, Pyongyang responded with a harsh statement criticizing the action.

“The DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea) is watching the US posing a serious threat to the stability of the situation on the Korean Peninsula and its vicinity by redeploying the carrier task force in the waters off the Korean peninsula,” said a statement from the North Korean Foreign Ministry posted on the state-run Korean Central News Agency.

In May, during a visit to the South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol, President Joe Biden reaffirmed the U.S commitment to the defense of South Korea. President Biden also pledged use of the full range of U.S defense capabilities, including nuclear, conventional, and missile defense capabilities, in augmenting the South Korea-U.S. Mutual Defense Treaty.