ROKS Seoae Ryusungryong (DDG 993), front, and clockwise, ROKS Yul Gok Yii (DDG 992), ROKS Kang Gam Chan (DDH 979) and USS Spruance (DDG 111) maneuver together during a combined maritime operation, Sept. 26. (U.S. Navy/MC2 William Gaskill)

WATERS EAST OF THE KOREAN PENINSULA - The U.S. and Republic of Korea navies (ROKN) joined forces to conduct a combined maritime operation in waters east of the Korean Peninsula, Sept. 26.

The operation is in response to recent North Korean provocations and is designed to send a strong message of unified resolve against continuing acts of North Korean aggression.

The U.S. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Spruance (DDG 111) joined ROKN Aegis destroyers, submarines, anti-submarine helicopters, and U.S. and ROKN P-3 patrol aircraft in the operation that highlighted the unified naval force capabilities in defense of the Republic of Korea and region from surface, subsurface, and ballistic missile threats.

“This operation showcases the unwavering strength and resolve of the U.S. and ROK navies,” said Rear Adm. Brad Cooper, commander of U.S. Naval Forces Korea and Task Force 78. “We work side-by-side with our ROK partners every day; we are by their side today at sea, and we will remain by their side to defend against North Korea’s unprovoked acts of aggression.”

"Our ROK-US alliance will counter the North Korean nuclear development and SLBM threats with determination,” said Vice Adm. Lee, Ki-sik, commander of the Republic of Korea Fleet.