|Arthur Dominic Villasanta |||Apr 19, 2017 07:25 PM EDT|
(Photo : US Navy) F/A-18 fighters aboard the USS Carl Vinson.
The deployment to Asia of the nuclear powered Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) and her Carrier Strike Group 1 (CSG-1) has been extended by 30 days as tensions in the Korean Peninsula triggered by North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs show no signs of abating.
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The Vinson and her CSG-1, which are under command of the United States Third Fleet, were deployed to Asia on Feb. 18 for a three-month deployment. The extended deployment means the 6,000 men and women aboard the carrier and her three escorting warships will remain on station until either June or July.
"Our deployment has been extended 30 days to provide a persistent presence in the waters off the Korean Peninsula," said Rear Admiral James Kilby, Commander, Carrier Strike Group 1.
"While all of us look forward to being connected with our friends and families, our nation requires us to be its flexible force, the away team, and as we have done time and time again through history, we won't let her down now."
He said the mission of CSG-1 is to reassure America's allies and partners of the country's steadfast commitment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.
"We will continue to be the centerpiece of visible maritime deterrence, providing our national command authority with flexible deterrent options, all domain access, and a visible forward presence," said Admiral Kilby.
Providing protection for the 100,000 ton carrier are the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112) and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108).
On April 9, the United States Pacific Command (USPACOM) said CVN-70 was being sent to waters off North Korea "to maintain readiness"
"The U.S. Pacific Command ordered the Carl Vinson Strike Group north as a prudent measure to maintain readiness and presence in the Western Pacific," said Dave Benham, USPACOM spokesman.
"The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilizing program of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability."
The 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.
North Korea has been testing medium-range missiles since early 2016 and North Korea leader Kim Jong-un in January said North Korea had "entered the final stage of preparation for a test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile" capable of hitting the mainland United States.
The USS Carl Vinson is the flagship of CSG-1. The offensive power of Carrier Air Wing Seventeen rests on its four squadrons of McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 strike fighters totaling over 40 jets.
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