Japanese Warships Joining USS Carl Vinson Strike Group in Patrols off North Korea
A squadron of warships from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) will join the nuclear powered aircraft carrier, the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), and its carrier strike group to patrol the Sea of Japan (or East China Sea) off the east coast of the Korean peninsula as North Korea prepares to explode its sixth nuclear bomb.
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Japanese media confirmed the news of the involvement in the U.S. Navy partols by an unspecified number of JMSDF warships. Speculation is rising this JMSDF battle group might include the massive helicopter carrier JS Kaga (DDH-184), the second of only two ships in the Izumo-class of helicopter destroyers. Kaga was commissioned into the JMSDF on March 22.
She is outfitted primarily for anti-submarine warfare (ASW) and carries specialized helicopters for this purpose. She can deploy up to 28 aircraft (mostly helicopters) or 14 larger fixed wing aircraft.
Reliable sources told Japanese media JMSDF intends to join the Carl Vinson's Carrier Strike Group for drills in the Sea of Japan. Tokyo has not issued an official statement about the deployment of JMSDF warships to patrol with the Americans.
Japan's willingness to conduct joint naval patrols along North Korea's eastern border is being seen by some analysts as illustrating the U.S. isn't acting alone in Asia against North Korea's unending provocations.
These provocations involve a relentless launch of ballistic missiles and a sixth nuclear bomb test that might occur on or before April 15, the birthday of the late Kim Il-sung, founder of the North Korean state and grandfather of the current leader, Kim Jong-un.
Only a few days ago, the Carl Vinson and her Carrier Strike Group One (CSG-1) were redeployed northwards from the South China Sea to patrol the Sea of Japan.
The United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) said CVN-70 was being sent to waters off North Korea "to maintain readiness." The carrier is escorted by two Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers belonging to Destroyer Squadron 1.
The Carl Vinson CSG last month took part in joint drills with the Republic of Korea Armed Forces (ROKAF) to prepare for any sudden change on the peninsula. These changes might include a collapse of the North Korean regime or an invasion of South Korea by the north.
The USS Carl Vinson is the flagship of CSG-1. Units assigned to CSG-1 are the USS Carl Vinson; Carrier Air Wing Seventeen; the Ticonderoga-class cruisers USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) and USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 1.
The offensive power off Carrier Air Wing Seventeen rests on its four squadrons of McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 strike fighters totaling over 40 jets.
The U.S. Navy deployed CSG-1 to the disputed waters of the South China Sea on Feb. 18, a month later than originally expected. The Vinson belongs to the United States Third Fleet.