Four powerful U.S. Navy warships are sailing toward North Korea to take up position off of the Korean Peninsula. According to a U.S. defense official and CNN, the USS Carl Vinson strike group was ordered to sail north after departing Singapore on Saturday, April 8, instead of heading to port in Australia. Kim Jong-Un has yet to issue a response to the movement.
What Is a Carrier Strike Group?
The carrier strike group that was sent is led by the USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier. Also part of the strike group are two Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, the USS Michael Murphy (DDG-112), and the USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108), and one Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain (CG-57)
The Carl Vinson is the flagship of Carrier Strike Group 1 and is based at the Naval Base in San Diego. The massive warship is crewed by nearly 6,500 sailors, marines, and aviators. The carrier is also home to Carrier Air Wing 2(CVW-2) when it is abroad. CVW-2 is home to nine squadrons of U.S. Navy aircraft, including four strike fighter squadrons flying the F/A-18F Super Hornet, one electronics warfare squadron flying the EA-18G Growler, and four support squadrons of helicopter combat and early warning aircraft. In total, the Vinson can field over 60 aircraft at one time to pursue air-to-ground or air-to-air combat wherever they are needed.
The Arleigh Burke destroyers are also nimble and dangerous warships. They are equipped with a vertical missile launching system that can be outfitted with Tomahawk cruise missiles, the same kind that were used in the strike against Syria earlier in the week. They are also capable of firing surface-to-air missiles as well as Standard Ballistic missile defense missiles to protect themselves and the Carl Vinson. Each destroyer carries 56 Tomahawk cruise missiles, making them lethal at standard engagement ranges.
The Lake Champlain is also a powerful warship capable of launching Tomahawk missiles, but where the Ticonderoga class shines is in missile defense. The Champlain is capable of intercepting ballistic missiles outside of the earth’s atmosphere, knocking them out and rendering them harmless.
Positioning the Strike Group near South Korea gives President Trump the flexibility to both defend against a missile attack by North Korea or to preemptively launch an attack of his own.