The U.S., Japan, and South Korean navies conducted a trilateral link exercise (LINKEX) early this week to promote missile defense communications and operations, the Navy said Tuesday.
The exercise employed tactical data link systems to exchange track data between the participating ships. This allows participants to “enhance tactical capabilities, increase self-defense, and strengthen partnerships and situational awareness,” the Navy said in a statement.
The LINKEX occurred off the eastern coast of Korea and in waters near Japan. The Navy said it promoted communications, interoperability, and partnership in the area of operations.
Participating U.S. ships included the destroyers USS Stethem (DDG-63) and USS Milius (DDG-69) as well as Republic of Korea navy and Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force ships.
Separately, the Western Pacific Seventh Fleet area of operations currently has three aircraft carrier strike groups operating in it as of this week: the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71), and USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and their respective carrier strike groups.
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) is forward deployed to Japan while the Roosevelt entered the area of operations after leaving its homeport of San Diego, Calif., earlier this month for a scheduled deployment to the Seventh and Fifth Fleet areas of responsibility, and the Nimitz group is headed to its homeport in Bremerton, Wash., from the Persian Gulf and Fifth Fleet area after conducting strikes on ISIS targets in the Middle East.
The Navy said the Roosevelt’s group (Carrier Strike Group, CSG 9) entered the area on Oct. 23 and is set to conduct maritime security operations, theater security cooperation, and port visits. Other ships in CSG 9 include guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52), as well as destroyers USS Halsey (DDG-97), USS Preble (DDG-88) and USS Sampson (DDG-102).
“Entering 7th Fleet is an exciting opportunity to integrate with other U.S. Navy units in the AOO, as well as operate with our partners and allies in the region,” Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, CSG 9 commander, said in a statement.
The Nimitz and its Carrier Strike Group 11 entered the Seventh Fleet area of operations on Wednesday. The Navy said the ships are scheduled for a port visit and are ready to support operations in the region before traveling back to their homeports.
The Navy noted while operating in the Gulf as part of Operation Inherent Resolve, the Nimitz launched 1,322 sorties and dropped 903 pieces of ordnance since July 25.
CSG 11 includes the guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59), and destroyers USS Howard (DDG-83), USS Shoup (DDG-86), USS Pinckney (DDG-91) and USS Kidd (DDG-100).
Meanwhile, South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency reported that the Reagan has been operating off the coast of South Korea in a joint maritime exercise. While there, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea, Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, and U.S. Forces Korea head, Gen. Vincent Brooks, met on CVN-76 on Tuesday, the report said.