The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) strike groups began a training rotation known as a three-carrier strike force exercise off the coast of the Korean peninsula on Saturday. The massive show of force, intended to help dissuade North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un from continuing to pursue the development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile platforms capable of carrying them, doesn’t only include the huge Nimitz class carriers. Also on display during the exercise are a veritable fleet of U.S. Navy support ships and allied vessels hailing from Japan’s Self Defense Force and the South Korean Navy.
Among Japan’s offerings to the training event was its large Ise helicopter destroyer, which is among the largest ships in the nation’s fleet. The Inazuma and Makinami destroyers also joined the Naval formation as they began the four day drills.
Each of the massive Nimitz Class carriers displace more than 100,000 tons of water, with an overall length that reaches nearly 1,100 feet (1,040 at the waterline) and is powered by two nuclear reactors. They are capable of carrying as many as 6,000 sailors and up to 85 aircraft of varying types.
Of course, a carrier strike group is comprised of more than the carrier itself. Each carrier comes with its own entourage of specialized warfighting vessels, including at least one Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser, two Arleigh Burke class guided missile destroyers, a Los Angeles class attack submarine and a supply class replenishment ship.
Multiply that flotilla by three, and you have nearly 600,000 tons of American Naval firepower bearing down on the region, with more than 21,000 personnel and a more than 255 military aircraft–and that’s before you begin factoring in allied assets from Japan and South Korea. In fact, in terms of sheer manpower, the three strike groups present for these drills represent a larger military than Sweden, Switzerland, or Denmark boast in their entirety.
However, as amazing as all those numbers truly are, to truly appreciate just how formidable a presence the United States and its allies have placed just beyond the borders of Kim Jong Un’s reclusive state, you have to see it.
Images courtesy of the U.S. Navy