Korean Peninsula and U.S. Aircraft Carriers

USS George Washington (CVN-73) will participate in a ROK-U.S. joint maritime exercise in the waters west of the Korean Peninsula. Known as “floating military base,” Every time the U.S. aircraft carriers, known as “floating military bases,” arrive at the Korean Peninsula for maritime exercises, the Korean people take a great interest, because they take pride in their tremendous firepower that can exceed that of a small country.

USS George Washington Arrives at Busan Naval Operations Base. By Jeong Eui-hun
Source: MND, Republic of Korea

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With a few exceptions, U.S. aircraft carriers have been deployed whenever dangerous situations occur or there is in need of intercepting in advance possible provocations by North Korea.

Another aim of their deployment is at reaffirming the fulfillment of ROK-U.S. security commitment and at displaying the solid security alliance between the two countries.

Here is a brief history of enduring ties between the Korean Peninsula and U.S. aircraft carriers.

When did the relationship between S. Korea and U.S. aircraft carriers begin? It has been believed to be an established opinion to date back to 1950, when USS Oriskany (CV-34) was deployed for service in the Korean War.

Oriskany, which was named for the Revolutionary War Battle of Oriskany, arrived off the Korean Coast on Oct. 31, 1952, to aid UN forces during the Korean War. Her aircraft struck hard with bombing against enemy supply lines and coordinated bombing missions with surface gun strikes along the coast.

A conventional aircraft carrier, the USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63) is one of the U.S. aircraft carriers in the deepest connection with S. Korea. During her service in the Pacific region for almost 50 years from her commission in Apr. 21, 1961, to her decommission in May 21, 2009, the Kitty Hawk has never failed to appear off the Korean Peninsula whenever the latter came to a security crisis.

For example, in October 1979, the Kitty Hawk was directed to operate south of the Korean Peninsula in response to the assassination of South Korean President Park Chung Hee on Oct. 26. She also visited Busan in June 2004 when North Korea admitted it has undertaken a nuclear weapons development program, and in March 2005 when she participated in a scheduled ROK-U.S. joint military exercise.

1976 saw USS Midway arriving to the waters east of the Korean Peninsula.

In August 1976, carrying 65 aircraft and heading 5 frigates, she made a show of force off the eastern coast of Korea in response to an unprovoked attack on two U.S. Army officers who were killed by North Korean guards on Aug. 18. At the time, Midway’s mission was to sail northward to the territorial sea of North Korea to deter additional provocations by the country.

From Sept. 13 through Oct. 2 1988, USS Nimitz (CVN 68) operated off the South Korean coast to provide security for the Olympic Games in Seoul.

USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) and USS Carl Vinson each twice visited Busan, S. Korea, in Jan. 2000/Mar. 2009 and Mar. 2003/Jan. 2011, respectively. The missions of the two warships were combined with their crew’s relaxation, the enhancement of friendship between the two militaries and their participation in Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercise.

In March 2006, USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) hosted several S. Korean military officials during Foal Eagle 2006 in the East Sea. The carrier caught people’s eyes because of an interesting event. In May of the same year, U.S. President George W. Bush made his historic landing on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln in a fixed-wing aircraft and declared the end of major combat operations in Iraq in a speech from the her deck.

In March 2007, USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) arrived at Busan Naval Operations Base for a scheduled port visit in conjunction with Exercise Reception, Staging, Onward Movement and Integration (RSOI).

2008 witnessed three different U.S. aircraft carriers visiting S. Korea. Following the USS Nimitz’s arrival at Busan Naval Operations Base for the Key Resolve exercise in February, the USS Ronald Reagan arrived in Busan for friendly interaction between the two countries’ soldiers and her soldiers’ rest, and in October, the USS George Washington arrived in Korea to participate in an international naval review and for the 60th anniversary of the Korean government and its armed forces.

The George Washington is a welcome visitor to S. Korea. In a few recent years, she showed up three times around the Korean Peninsula with an exception of the 2008 visit.

In July 2010, she arrived in Busan for a four-day port visit before taking part in Exercise Invincible Spirit in the East Sea, which is a strengthened joint maritime exercise after the sinking of the Cheonan warship.

Four months later in November, the aircraft carrier first joined Republic of Korea naval forces in the waters west of the Korean Peninsula, from Nov. 28 to Dec. 1, for joint naval drills.

In Sep. 2011, the George Washington arrived in Busan to participate in the Armed Forces Day celebration.

Ministry of National Defense[MND], Republic of Korea