S. Korea, US to hold joint Navy drills

Seoul, Oct 13 (IANS) The South Korean and US navies will kick off high-profile joint drills off the coast of the Korean peninsula next week, the allies announced on Friday.

The two sides plan to conduct the Maritime Counter Special Operations exercise (MCSOFEX) from October 16-26 in the East Sea and the Yellow Sea, Yonhap news agency reported.

The training is aimed at promoting “communications, interoperability, and partnership in the (US) 7th Fleet area of operations”, the fleet said.

US Navy units participating in the exercise include the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and two Arleigh Burke-class destroyers — USS Stethem and USS Mustin.

The Reagan is expected to operate in the East Sea while the destroyers will likely be sent to the Yellow Sea during the training period.

South Korea will field a Sejong the Great-class destroyer, P-3 Orion anti-submarine aircraft, F-15k, FA-18 and A-10 fighter jets, as well as Lynx and AW-159 Wild Cat naval choppers.

It’s a “regular, joint and combined exercise to counter North Korea’s maritime threats and sharpen the interoperability of South Korea and the US”, said Vice Admiral Jung Jin-seop, Commander of the South Korean Navy’s Operations.

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