U.S., South Korea to hold anti-submarine drills in Yellow Sea
August 19, 2010
SEOUL — The U.S. and South Korean navies will conduct anti-submarine warfare exercises in the Yellow Sea in early September, according to the Defense Department.
Specific dates for the exercises, as well as what surface ships, submarines and air units will participate, were not stated in the Wednesday announcement from the Pentagon.
The anti-submarine exercises are to be held as a deterrent to North Korea, Pentagon spokesman Bryan Whitman said during a press conference in Washington, D.C. North Korea has been widely blamed for sinking the South Korean warship Cheonan in March.
U.S. Forces Korea spokesman David Oten said North Korea has been advised of the upcoming exercise.
The Navy announced earlier this month that the USS George Washington, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier that operates out of Yokosuka Naval Base, Japan, would be exercising in the Yellow Sea sometime this year but was not more specific.
Oten said Thursday the carrier will not participate in the upcoming exercise. The George Washington participated in last month’s U.S.-South Korea Invincible Spirit exercise in waters between South Korea and Japan, the first in a series of exercises being held in response to the March 26 sinking of the Cheonan.
U.S. and South Korean officials have accused North Korea of launching a torpedo from a midget submarine that sank the Cheonan, killing 46 sailors. The accusation was based on an international, South Korean-led investigation that determined North Korea was to blame.
North Korea has repeatedly denied involvement and has threatened retaliation if the alliance responds militarily.
The Cheonan was sunk in the Yellow Sea near a disputed maritime border between North and South Korea.
At the time, South Korea and the U.S. had been conducting a naval anti-infiltration exercise about 75 nautical miles away, according to the international investigation team’s report.
The Yellow Sea, known to Koreans as the West Sea, lies between the Korean peninsula and China.
China, a key North Korean ally, has objected to the upcoming anti-submarine warfare exercise, though Whitman said during the press conference that China should not view it as a threat because joint exercises are intended to maintain regional stability.
The U.S. and South Korea have “exercised for decades” in the waters around the Korean peninsula, Whitman said.
“China and our other allies and parties in the region share this interest in preserving stability,” he said.
Last week, about 4,500 South Korean troops completed a five-day exercise in the Yellow Sea that also was aimed at deterring future North Korean attacks.
Currently, The U.S. and South Korea are participating in the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a largely computer-based command and control exercise on the peninsula.