From ABC News' Luis Martinez:
The aircraft carrier USS George Washington and four other U.S. Navy ships will participate in just announced military exercises with South Korea this weekend as part of the United States’ response to North Korea’s deadly artillery barrage of a South Korean island that has triggered an international crisis.
The exercise will be held in the Yellow Sea, west of the Korean Peninsula.
Late Tuesday night, the White House announced that as part of President Obama’s phone conversation with South Korean President Lee, both presidents “agreed to hold combined military exercises and enhanced training in the days ahead to continue the close security cooperation between our two countries, and to underscore the strength of our Alliance and commitment to peace and security in the region.”
A statement from the Navy’s Seventh Fleet says the USS George Washington strike group will join with South Korean naval forces in the Yellow Sea for a joint exercise that will begin this Sunday and last through Dec. 1.
In addition to the carrier, the cruisers USS Cowpens and USS Shiloh and the destroyers USS Stethem and USS Fitzgerald will also participate in the exercise.
The statement makes the point that the exercise is “defensive in nature” and “while planned well before yesterday's unprovoked artillery attack, it demonstrates the strength of the ROK-U.S. Alliance and our commitment to regional stability through deterrence. It is also designed to improve our military interoperability.”
The U.S. and South Korean forces will conduct air defense and surface warfare readiness training.
The intent to hold a carrier exercise off the western coast of the Korean Peninsula was first announced in July in the wake of North Korea’s sinking of the South Korean warship Cheonan. It was to do be part of a series of ongoing joint exercises intended to show North Korea the strength of the US-South Korean security alliance.
However, after China expressed concerns about holding an exercise in the Yellow Sea, plans were adjusted and a “show of force” exercise was held off the eastern Sea of Japan.
U.S. officials said plans still called for an exercise in the Yellow Sea, though they had yet to be announced until today.
The carrier left its homeport of Yokosuka, Japan on Wednesday morning as part of a previously scheduled departure. The carrier will now adjust its plans and make its way to the waters off the west coast of the Korean Peninsula for this weekend’s exercise.