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