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The USS Ronald Reagan makes a port visit to Busan, South Korea, on Friday morning, Oct. 30, 2015, after participating in days of joint drills with the South Korean navy.

The USS Ronald Reagan makes a port visit to Busan, South Korea, on Friday morning, Oct. 30, 2015, after participating in days of joint drills with the South Korean navy. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

The USS Ronald Reagan makes a port visit to Busan, South Korea, on Friday morning, Oct. 30, 2015, after participating in days of joint drills with the South Korean navy.

The USS Ronald Reagan makes a port visit to Busan, South Korea, on Friday morning, Oct. 30, 2015, after participating in days of joint drills with the South Korean navy. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

The brow of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. Ronald Reagan arrived in Busan following joint maritime training with the South Korean navy.

The brow of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. Ronald Reagan arrived in Busan following joint maritime training with the South Korean navy. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

An F/A-18 Super Hornet sits on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan with the South Korean flag in the background Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 in Busan, South Korea.

An F/A-18 Super Hornet sits on the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan with the South Korean flag in the background Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 in Busan, South Korea. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Crewmembers from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan gather on the fantail after arriving in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.

Crewmembers from the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan gather on the fantail after arriving in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan patrol a street market on the pier in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.

Sailors from the USS Ronald Reagan patrol a street market on the pier in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

The South Korean flag waves in front the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 in Busan, South Korea.

The South Korean flag waves in front the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan Friday, Oct. 30, 2015 in Busan, South Korea. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

A sailor buys fried chicken on a stick, a common street food in South Korea, on the pier after the USS Ronald Reagan arrived in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015.

A sailor buys fried chicken on a stick, a common street food in South Korea, on the pier after the USS Ronald Reagan arrived in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

Capt. Chris Bolt, commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan, speaks after the aircraft carrier arrived in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. The ship is in Busan following joint maritime training with the South Korean navy.

Capt. Chris Bolt, commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan, speaks after the aircraft carrier arrived in Busan, South Korea, Friday, Oct. 30, 2015. The ship is in Busan following joint maritime training with the South Korean navy. (James Kimber/Stars and Stripes)

BUSAN, South Korea — The USS Ronald Reagan and three other Navy ships pulled into the headquarters for the Command Republic of Korea Fleet on Friday following joint exercises with the South Korean navy and a close encounter with two Russian planes.

The aircraft carrier, guided missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville and guided missile destroyers USS Fitzgerald and USS Mustin brought nearly 5,000 sailors to the southeast Korean port city of Busan for rest-and-recuperation and community relations events, including celebrating Halloween with local children. The Reagan is scheduled to remain in Busan until Wednesday.

“The U.S. and Republic of Korea share one of the strongest alliances in the world,” 7th Fleet commander Rear Adm. John Alexander told a news conference. “Our navies learn from each other, and we grow stronger as an alliance because of our routine exercises here in South Korea and the close relationship and ties that forge from operating at sea together.”

The drills included anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare training, communication drills, air defense exercises and counter-mine planning in addition to routine joint nation exercises and a sailor exchange program, according to a U.S. Naval Forces Korea statement.

“This is an opportunity for us to bring America’s flagship to the people of Korea. We conducted a hull swap with the USS George Washington and replaced her with the USS Ronald Reagan,” Alexander said. “It’s a similar ship with a similar design but is far more capable in a command-and-control atmosphere.”

The visit caps a busy week for the Reagan and other members of the battle force. Two Russian Tupolev Tu-142 Bear aircraft flew as low as 500 feet and within one nautical mile of the Reagan off the eastern coast of the Korean Peninsula Tuesday morning. Navy officials said four F/A-18 Super Hornets took off from the Reagan’s flight deck in response to the Russian approach.

The incident occurred at roughly the same time that the destroyer USS Lassen sailed within a 12-nautical-mile territorial zone claimed by China around Subi Reef in the South China Sea.

The U.S. undertook the “freedom of navigation” operation because it considers those waters international, though China condemned the move as a violation of its “indisputable sovereignty.”

Following Korea, the Reagan will continue operations and scheduled exercises in the western Pacific before concluding its Fall Patrol later this year.

kimber.james@stripes.com Twitter: @james_kimber


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