The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group carried out a trilateral drill on Sunday in the East China Sea with the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force and the Republic of Korea Navy as a deterrence display following North Korea’s launch of a reconnaissance satellite on Nov. 21.
According to a Japan Joint Staff Office (JSO) release on Sunday, the exercise “demonstrates the strong commitment of the three countries to secure a free and open international order based on the rule of law.”
Carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) together with destroyers USS Kidd (DDG-100) and USS Sterret (DDG-104) carried out the drill with JMSDF destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104) and ROKN destroyer ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991), according to a JMSDF release on Monday. “We practiced various high-end and tactical drills with the U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Group, which has strong strike capability, and the ROK Navy’s Aegis ship, which has high air-defense capability to improve our tactical capabilities and strengthen cooperation with the two navies,” said Capt. Takayuki Maki, commander of Escort Division 4, in the release.
In a social media post, the ROKN stated the exercise was held in international waters southeast of Jeju Island “to bolster joint operation capabilities and close coordination between the countries amid North Korea’s evolving nuclear and missile threats. It was an opportunity to demonstrate the commitment and the combined response capabilities of the three nations.”
Vinson was previously in Busan on a port visit having arrived there on Nov. 21. Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Lisa Franchetti and Master Chief Petty Officer of the Navy James Honea visited the carrier on Friday along with ROKN CNO Adm. Yang Yong-mo. The two CNOs held their first meeting as respective heads of their navies, stated a Navy release. The carrier is now in the Philippine Sea, according to images dated Sunday.
North Korea’s Pyongyang Times reported on Sunday that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visited the Pyongyang General Control Centre of the National Aerospace Technology Administration again on Saturday morning where he was shown photographs taken by the satellite launched on Nov. 21. The North Korean leader saw the satellite photos of Joint Base Pearl Harbor, Hickam air base and other U.S. military facilities in Hawaii, taken by the satellite. He also saw satellite photos of South Korean military bases and facilities at Jinhae, Busan, Ulsan, Phohang, Taegu and Kangnung taken that day along with a photo of Vinson docked at Busan. North Korea has not released any of these images publicly.
During a Friday press conference, Japan Defense Minister Minoru Kihara gave an official acknowledgement that North Korea has successfully placed a satellite into orbit.
Also on Friday, the JMSDF issued a release stating that a JMSDF P-1 maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) conducted a joint intelligence, surveillance and Reconnaissance (ISR) mission around Japan from Nov.19 – Nov. 20 with U.S Navy and Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8A Poseidon MPAs. A Navy release the same day stated that one P-8A Poseidon from Commander, Task Force 72, one P-8A from RAAF and one P-1 from JMSDF conducted the trilateral mission designed to improve interoperability and combined ISR proficiency.
On Monday, the JSO issued a release stating that People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Dongdiao-class intelligence ship Tianshuxing (795), which sailed between the islands of Amami Oshima and Yokoate-jima to enter the Pacific Ocean on Oct. 29, returned the same way into the East China Sea on Saturday. The release stated that a JMSDF P-1 MPA of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya air base on the main island of Kyushu shadowed Tianshuxing.