US Navy moves second aircraft carrier near North Korea

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The US Navy is moving the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier to the Korean Peninsula where it will conduct dual-carrier training exercises with the USS Carl Vinson amid heightened tensions in the region, two defense officials told CNN.

The move comes just days after North Korea demonstrated a significant leap forward in their missile program after launching a projectile that achieved “successful” controlled reentry into the Earth’s lower atmosphere rather than falling back to the surface, according to a preliminary US intelligence analysis, two US officials tell CNN.

The USS Ronald Reagan departed for the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday after completing a maintenance period and sea trials in its homeport of Yokosuka, Japan, according to the Navy.

“Coming out of a long in-port maintenance period we have to ensure that Ronald Reagan and the remainder of the strike group are integrated properly as we move forward,” Rear Adm. Charles Williams said in a press release.

Once it arrives in the region, the carrier will conduct a variety of training exercises but primarily focus on certifying its ability to safely launch and recover aircraft, the Navy said. Defense officials would not comment on long the two carriers would be there, but ultimately the Reagan is expected to replace the Vinson in the region once its deployment ends.

The 1,092-foot Reagan, a Nimitz-class carrier, has a crew of 4,539 and is equipped with roughly 60 aircraft, according to the Navy. It was commissioned in 2003 and cost about $8.5 billion.

The USS Carl Vinson, also a Nimitz-class carrier, arrived at the Korean Peninsula late last month as a show of force in advance of a long-anticipated sixth nuclear test from the North Korean government.

Lightning strikes over the flight deck of the USS John C. Stennis, another Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, as the ship moves through the Persian Gulf in 2007. All of the Navy’s 10 active aircraft carriers are from the Nimitz class, which started in 1975 with the commission of the USS Nimitz.

Lightning strikes over the flight deck of the USS John C. Stennis, another Nimitz-class aircraft carrier, as the ship moves through the Persian Gulf in 2007. All of the Navy’s 10 active aircraft carriers are from the Nimitz class, which started in 1975 with the commission of the USS Nimitz.

The USS Ranger (CV-61) arrives at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1993. The Forrestal-class carrier, which featured in the movie “Top Gun,” is to be scrapped this year.

The USS Ranger (CV-61) arrives at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, in 1993. The Forrestal-class carrier, which featured in the movie “Top Gun,” is to be scrapped this year.

In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, a tugboat works alongside the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga on Thursday, August 21, in Newport, Rhode Island. The Navy has paid a Texas recycling company a penny to dispose of the Saratoga, part of the Forrestal-class of “supercarrier” vessels built for the Atomic Age. The carrier was decommissioned 20 years ago.

In this photo released by the U.S. Navy, a tugboat works alongside the decommissioned aircraft carrier USS Saratoga on Thursday, August 21, in Newport, Rhode Island. The Navy has paid a Texas recycling company a penny to dispose of the Saratoga, part of the Forrestal-class of “supercarrier” vessels built for the Atomic Age. The carrier was decommissioned 20 years ago.

Aircrew members are lifted from the flight deck of the USS John F. Kennedy during an exercise in 2002. The ship, which was decommissioned in 2007, was the only member of its class.

Aircrew members are lifted from the flight deck of the USS John F. Kennedy during an exercise in 2002. The ship, which was decommissioned in 2007, was the only member of its class.

An F/A-18 Hornet launches from the USS Enterprise in 2007. The Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was decommissioned in 2012. Like the John F. Kennedy, it was the only ship built in its class.

An F/A-18 Hornet launches from the USS Enterprise in 2007. The Enterprise, the world’s first nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, was decommissioned in 2012. Like the John F. Kennedy, it was the only ship built in its class.

The Kitty Hawk class was named for the USS Kitty Hawk, seen here departing Yokosuka, Japan, in 2008. At that time, the Kitty Hawk was the oldest carrier in the U.S. Navy and the only conventional-power aircraft carrier still in commission. It was decommissioned in 2009.

The Kitty Hawk class was named for the USS Kitty Hawk, seen here departing Yokosuka, Japan, in 2008. At that time, the Kitty Hawk was the oldest carrier in the U.S. Navy and the only conventional-power aircraft carrier still in commission. It was decommissioned in 2009.

The USS Independence, a member of the Forrestal class that preceded the Kitty Hawk class, heads up the East River in New York in 1959.

The USS Independence, a member of the Forrestal class that preceded the Kitty Hawk class, heads up the East River in New York in 1959.

Helicopters sit on the flight deck of the USS Saipan during the mid-1950s. The ship was one of two members of the Saipan class.
Photos: U.S. aircraft carriers
Helicopters sit on the flight deck of the USS Saipan during the mid-1950s. The ship was one of two members of the Saipan class.

The USS Midway, namesake of the Midway class of aircraft carriers, floats off the coast of North Vietnam in 1972. It was named after the Battle of Midway, when U.S. forces held back a Japanese attempt to take the Pacific atoll in 1942.

The USS Midway, namesake of the Midway class of aircraft carriers, floats off the coast of North Vietnam in 1972. It was named after the Battle of Midway, when U.S. forces held back a Japanese attempt to take the Pacific atoll in 1942.

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