Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, pledged on Tuesday to deploy an aircraft carrier strike group in waters off the Korean Peninsula in response to provocations from North Korea.
Swift, who supervises U.S. naval operations in the Asia-Pacific region, was speaking at the International Seapower Symposium in Seoul hosted by the Korean Navy, the Korean Institute for Maritime Strategy, and the Sea Lanes of Communication (SLOC) Study Group-Korea.
He said that there is no change in the U.S.' "ironclad" commitment to the defense of South Korea.
His fleet is responsible for "nearly 60 percent of U.S. Navy assets" and 200 naval ships, 1,180 aircraft, and 140,000 sailors and civilian crew are on standby, he added.
"A 'dual-carrier operation' in the region can be an option as well, given the strategic significance of aircraft carriers," Yonhap News quoted him as saying.
The U.S. in May and June deployed both the nuclear-powered aircraft carriers USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan in Korean waters for joint naval drills.
Right after the North's nuclear test on Sunday, Cheong Wa Dae National Security Council chief Chung Eui-yong said that he is discussing with Washington deploying the "strongest strategic assets" the U.S. has.
Navy Adm. Um Hyun-seong (left) meets with Adm. Scott Swift, the commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet, at a hotel in Seoul on Tuesday. /Yonhap