US, S Korea postpone drills as tropical storm nears

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 05 September, 2010, 12:00am

The US-South Korean anti-submarine drills due to begin today in the Yellow Sea have been postponed because of bad weather, a US military officer said yesterday.

'Due to an approaching tropical storm, we have postponed anti-submarine warfare exercises between the US and Republic of Korea that were due to start [today],' Jeff Davis, a spokesman for the United States Seventh Fleet, said.

'Tropical storm 10W is forecast to enter the Yellow Sea in the next day. Both high winds and heavy seas are expected to directly impact the exercise area, creating potentially unsafe conditions for exercise participants.'

He said the exercises would be rescheduled for a later date, without saying when.

The five-day anti-submarine warfare drills were scheduled to run from today until Thursday.

The drills would not involve an aircraft carrier this time, Davis said, but he would not rule out the possibility of a carrier operating in the Yellow Sea in the future.

'Participating ships USS Fitzgerald, USS Curtis Wilbur, USNS Victorious and the [unnamed] submarine will proceed with other assigned duties,' he said.

The United States and South Korea staged massive war games in the Yellow Sea last month, but aircraft carrier the USS George Washington was absent because of repeated opposition from Beijing.

South Korea said the continued joint military drills with the US were a warning to the North, which Seoul believes sank its Cheonan warship in March in a torpedo attack. Pyongyang denies involvement. But some senior Chinese military officials see the drills as provocative and aimed at encircling a rising China.