USS Theodore Roosevelt enters Western Pacific amid North Korea tensions

SAN DIEGO — The San Diego-based aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt and its escorts arrived in the western Pacific Ocean, becoming the second carrier group in the region, the Navy reported Tuesday.

The “Big Stick” left San Diego on Oct. 6 while the cruiser USS Bunker Hill departed one day later. They were joined by the destroyers USS Sampson, based in Washington state, and USS Halsey and USS Preble, which have home ports in Hawaii.

The area of the Pacific west of the international date line is controlled by the Navy’s 7th Fleet.

“Entering 7th Fleet is an exciting opportunity to integrate with other U.S. Navy units in the (area of operation), as well as operate with our partners and allies in the region,” said Rear Adm. Steve Koehler, commander, Carrier Strike Group 9. We look forward to continued partnerships that lead to mutual security and common views about operating at sea.”

The sailors and Marines will conduct maritime security operations, theater security cooperation and make port visits as part of the Navy’s ongoing presence in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, according to the Navy.

“USS Theodore Roosevelt is prepared to carry out the full spectrum of possible missions, from humanitarian relief to combat operations,” said Capt. Carlos Sardiello, the commanding officer. “When a carrier leaves on deployment, we have to be ready for anything.”

The deployment comes amid heightened tensions with North Korea over its nuclear ambitions and China over disputed islands in the South China Sea. The aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is already operating in the area.

The vessels are also expected to journey into the Persian Gulf to relieve a strike group led by aircraft carrier USS Nimitz.

The Roosevelt is named after the nation’s 26th president, while the Bunker Hill is named for the site near Boston of a key Revolutionary War battle.