Photo/IllutrationThe USS Ronald Reagan back at the U.S. naval base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture, on the morning of Dec. 4 (Ikuro Aiba)

  • Photo/Illustraion

YOKOSUKA, Kanagawa Prefecture--The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier returned to the Yokosuka Naval Base here on Dec. 4 for the first time since departing in September to send a message to North Korea.

The warship will undergo regular maintenance until next spring, according to sources.

After North Korea’s missile and nuclear tests heightened tensions in the region, the aircraft carrier was deployed in the Sea of Japan and rendezvoused with the USS Theodore Roosevelt and the USS Nimitz in November.

It is highly unusual to have three carrier strike groups in the same area at one time.

The aircraft carriers also held a joint exercise with escort ships of Japan’s Maritime Self-Defense Force during the deployment.

The Ronald Reagan belongs to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, which has been plagued by serious accidents this year.

On Nov. 22, a C-2 transport plane based on the Ronald Reagan crashed into the Pacific off Okinotorishima island, south of Japan, during an exercise. Three crew members remain missing.

In June, the Aegis destroyer USS Fitzgerald collided with a container ship off the Izu Peninsula in eastern Japan. In August, another Aegis destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, hit a tanker off Singapore. Seventeen crew members died in those two accidents.

The commander of the 7th Fleet was removed from his position following the two collisions.