The United States, South Korea and Japan have carried out joint naval exercises off the coast of South Korea, defense officials say. It comes amidst rising tensions with North Korea.
The exercises took place south of Jeju Island on Monday and Tuesday and focused on anti-submarine warfare and search-and-rescue training, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry.
The joint exercises were aimed at improving coordination and readiness among the naval forces of the three nations to effectively neutralize any potential threat, the ministry said in a statement.
The nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Nimitz, one of the largest in the world, took part in the drills. It also included the U.S. destroyers USS Decatur and USS Wayne E. Mayer, Japanese destroyer Umigiri and South Korean support ship Soyang.
“This anti-submarine warfare training was prepared to improve the response capabilities of the U.S. and Japan against underwater threats such as North Korea’s recently advancing SLBMs, which are advancing in sophistication,” the statement said. “We will neutralize any form of provocation by responding overwhelmingly and decisively.”
North Korea has conducted several tests of submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), including a recent test in mid-March, coinciding with military drills conducted by the U.S. and South Korea that lasted for 11 days. The tests of SLBMs by North Korea have raised concerns about their advancing capabilities.