March 14 (UPI) -- The U.S. Navy aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson is expected to arrive in South Korea Wednesday to take part in joint drills on the peninsula, the U.S. military said.
U.S. Naval Forces Korea said Tuesday the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier is to arrive at the South Korean port city of Busan. The carrier strike group also includes an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, a Ticonderoga-class cruiser and other aircraft carriers, Yonhap reported.
According to the U.S. Navy, the Carl Vinson Strike Group includes 5,500 crewmembers, the Wayne E. Meyer destroyer and aircraft from Carrier Air Wing 2.
Crewmembers are carrying out regular maritime activities in the operations area of the U.S. Seventh Fleet, U.S. Naval Forces Korea said in its statement.
The Seventh Fleet is headquartered in Yokosuka, Japan, with some units based in South Korea, and is the largest of the forward-deployed U.S. fleets.
The USS Carl Vinson, with a displacement of more than 100,000 tons, was most recently deployed to the South China Sea, where it conducted training operations in disputed waters.
More than 80 aircraft, including the fighter aircraft F/A-18F Super Hornet, the E-2C Hawkeye, the carrier-based EA-18G Growler and the MH-60S Seahawk multirole helicopter, are on board the supercarrier.
Ahead of the deployment, South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-koo said Tuesday during a visit to the command post of the U.S.-South Korea Combined Forces Command that the protection of peace and freedom against North Korean threats can only be possible with the preparation of "powerful strength," local news service Money Today reported.
Readiness is key, Han said, while adding the bilateral alliance "cannot be replaced."