USS Ronald Reagan preps to replace Carl Vinson in Pacific

Published 10:02 AM EDT, Tue May 9, 2017

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During sea trials, the crew will undergo multiple training and qualification exercises

The USS Carl Vinson arrived in the area of the Korean Peninsula late last month as a show of force

(CNN) —  

The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier began sea trials in the Pacific on Monday, the final phase of its maintenance period as it prepares to replace the USS Carl Vinson near the Korean Peninsula, according to the US Navy.

During sea trials the crew “will undergo multiple training and qualification exercises to include engineering and medical drills as well as air, flight deck and hangar bay operations to evaluate the performance of sailors and their departments,” a Navy statement said.

The Nimitz-class carrier had been undergoing maintenance in Yokosuka, Japan.

“We are all looking forward to completing sea trials and returning to operations in the 7th Fleet,” said Capt. Buzz Donnelly, the Reagan’s commanding officer. “A major priority is the safety of our crew as we continue to refine our mission readiness of our ship and crew and return to sea.”

The USS Carl Vinson arrived at the Korean Peninsula late last month as a show of force in advance of a long-anticipated sixth nuclear test from the North Korean government.

One of the Navy’s most advanced submarines, the USS Michigan, also docked in South Korea just a few days prior to the Vinson’s arrival.

Tensions have rapidly escalated in the highly volatile region since President Donald Trump declared in early April he would be prepared to act “unilaterally” against Pyongyang and North Korea has engaged in a series of military drills and test launches.

The 1,092-foot Reagan carries a crew of 4,539 and is equipped with roughly 60 aircraft, according to the Navy. It was commissioned in 2003 and cost about $8.5 billion.