On November 24th President Barak Obama dispatched the USS George Washington Air Craft Carrier from it’s current location in Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan to take part in the new military drills with South Korea. “The United States stands shoulder to shoulder with our close friend and ally,” Obama told South Korean leader Lee Myung-bak, according to a White House statement. North Korea must stop its “provocative actions, which will only lead to further isolation.”
South Korea is on it’s second highest level of alert since four people were killed and 20 wounded by North Korea’s firing of about 170 artillery shells upon an island maintained by South Korea. Officials said Tuesday’s conflict came after Pyongyang warned the South to halt military drills near the small South Korean island of Yeonpyeong. When Seoul refused and began firing artillery into the water near the disputed sea border, the North bombarded Yeonpyeong, which houses South Korean military installations and a small civilian population.
It appears that there will be a marked increase in aggression by the new North Korean leadership that could lead to a nuclear exchange between the two sides of the peninsula of Korea. If the aggression produces a nuclear response, most certainly the United States would be drawn into a regional nuclear exchange. The U.S. aircraft carrier strike force headed by the USS George Washington, carries about 90 F/A-18-F Super Hornets and F/A-18-C Hornet warplanes and a crew of over 6,000.
George Washington is a Nimiz Class Supercarrier that is one of ten nuclear powered aircraft carriers in service with the United States navy that is equipped with two Westinghouse nuclear reactors provide the propulsion it needs for speed.. At just over 1, 092 feet and 100,000 tons of displacement Washington is amongst the largest capital ships in the world. In addition to the aircraft carried on board, the ships carry defensive equipment for direct use against missiles and hostile aircraft. These consist of either three or four NATO RIM-7 Sea Sparrow missile launchers, designed for defense against aircraft and anti-ship missiles as well as either three or four 20 mmPhalanx CIWS missile defense cannons.
George Washington does carry nuclear weapons on board. These carriers were designed and built to have the capacity to actually launch nuclear weapons. Some of these weapons are in the form of tactical sparrow missiles, cruise missiles and other nuclear armaments that are classified.