Photo/IllutrationThe U.S. Navy’s aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan at its base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, in September (Asahi Shimbun file photo)

Three U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups will be deployed to waters near the Korean Peninsula in an attempt to rein in Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, according to the U.S. Navy.

It will mark the first time since a deadly provocation in the demilitarized zone about 40 years ago for three U.S. flattops to converge off the peninsula, as tensions remain high in the region.

The drill comes amid U.S. President Donald Trump’s first tour to Asian countries, including Japan, South Korea and China.

The USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Nimitz will hold a joint drill in the western Pacific from Nov. 11 to Nov. 14, the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, said Nov. 9.

The strike groups are expected to conduct a joint exercise with South Korean forces on Nov. 10 in the Sea of Japan, facing the peninsula, and elsewhere.

The deployment of three carriers is believed to be the minimal force needed by the U.S. military to respond to a contingency on the peninsula.

Each strike group consists of an Aegis destroyer outfitted with Tomahawk cruise missiles and other vessels. The aircraft carried aboard the three carrier strike groups will total about 150.

Defense experts say nuclear-powered submarines may participate in the exercise, given Trump’s announcement in South Korea that they have been "appropriately positioned."

The last time three U.S. flattops approached the peninsula was in 1976, when the "ax murder incident" occurred. In the provocation, North Korean forces killed two U.S. officers who were attempting to prune a poplar tree in the DMZ to better monitor enemy activities.

As of Nov. 9, the South Korean and U.S. militaries have not raised their readiness levels.

There were no signs that U.S. nationals in South Korea have been advised to leave the country for safety reasons.

Sources familiar with the current situations in the United States and South Korea say the exercise by the three carriers is not intended to escalate into an attack on North Korea.

Although Pyongyang’s state-run media strongly condemns the deployment of the strike groups, the North Korean military will be unable to pinpoint the location of the U.S. carriers due to its limited radar capacity, according to defense experts.

“Cautious crisis management will be needed to prevent North Korea from getting the wrong message and attacking,” said a defense analyst.