The aircraft carrier Abraham Lincoln and its carrier strike group are operating off the Korean peninsula for the first time since 2017.
The operations in the Sea of Japan follow North Korea’s test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile in March.
“The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is conducting bilateral operations with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force in the Sea of Japan,” Cmdr. Hayley Sims, a spokesperson for the 7th Fleet, said in an email to Navy Times. “Routine bilateral operations like this one reassure our allies and partners of the U.S. commitment to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
“Our training enhances the credibility of conventional deterrence by demonstrating the strength of our bilateral partnerships,” Sims said.
On March 24, North Korea test-fired an intercontinental range ballistic missile — marking the first time Pyongyang has carried out a long-range test since 2017 and the 12th weapons launch of 2022.
The same day, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and South Korea’s Minister of National Defense Suh Wook spoke on the phone about the test, and Austin emphasized that the U.S. commitment to South Korea is unwavering, according to the Pentagon.
“The two leaders pledged to continue close consultations between military authorities of the ROK and the U.S. going forward and agreed on the importance of maintaining a robust U.S.-ROK combined defense posture,” the Department of Defense said in a statement.
The Lincoln departed San Diego Jan. 3 for a regularly scheduled deployment. The deployment is significant, in part, because it’s the first to include Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 314 — the Marine Corps’ first F-35C Lightning II stealth fighter jet squadron. Additionally, the carrier’s commanding officer, Capt. Amy Bauernschmidt, is the first woman to lead a nuclear carrier in U.S. Navy history.
The Lincoln’s carrier strike group includes the guided-missile cruiser Mobile Bay, and the guided-missile destroyers Fitzgerald, Gridley, Sampson and Spruance.