US flexes naval muscle in Asia ahead of Trump’s visit

Clapper warns of North Korea’s boiling point 01:33 Hong Kong (CNN)Two US Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have arrived in the Pacific in the past two days, putting three of the massive warships in the region as President Donald Trump prepares for a visit early next month.

The carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz — and their respective complements of cruisers, destroyers and submarines — have arrived in the US Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations, which covers the eastern Indian and western Pacific oceans, the Navy said in separate news releases this week.

The Roosevelt and Nimitz join the USS Ronald Reagan, which is based in Japan and has been engaged in exercises with South Korean forces in the past week.

Those exercises have drawn harsh criticism from North Korea , which sees any US military drills as rehearsals for an attack on Pyongyang.

While the Navy statements do not give any specific missions for the Roosevelt and Nimitz, the presence of the additional carriers is certain to draw attention in the region. Sailors spell out #USA with the American flag on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt in the Persian Gulf in late June 2015. When the Roosevelt leaves the Gulf sometime in October, the U.S. Navy will be without a carrier in the important region for two months. A photo illustration of the U.S. Navy’s Gerald R. Ford-class aircraft carrier USS John F. Kennedy (CVN-79). The ship’s keel laying ceremony was celebrated Saturday, August 22, 2015, in Newport News, Virginia. The ship is expected to replace the USS Nimitz (CVN-68), scheduled for inactivation in 2025, in the Navy fleet. The newest Kennedy will be the second carrier of that name. The first John F. Kennedy (CVA-67) was the last conventionally powered carrier. It was decommissioned in 2007.

The Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS George Washington (CVN 73) is seen from inside its sister ship, the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), on August 7 off the coast of California as the two ships prepare for a “hull swap.” Over 10 days in San Diego, much of the crew of each ship will transfer to the other. When completed, the Reagan will head to forward deployment in Japan, where the Washington had been. The Washington will head to Newport News, Virginia, for an overhaul.

The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt departs Naval Station Norfolk, Virginia, on Wednesday, March 11, for a scheduled deployment. The Nimitz-class carrier’s departure was delayed for two days after marine growth clogged sea water intakes. Divers went into the 36-degree water to clean out the intakes and allow the ship to get under way. The cold water created a fog that made it seem the ship was in a cloud.

“It does send a significant signal,” said Adam Mount, a defense analyst and senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists.

“It is a major projection of force any time a carrier moves into a region,” Mount said. “US adversaries will read something into it.”

The presence of […]