The exercise is taking place while U.S. President Donald Trump is on an Asian tour and presenting a united front with regional leaders.
A total of seven South Korean navy vessels, including Aegis-equipped warships, will participate in the drill, the statement said, to accompany 14 USA naval warships. The US administration thinks China's economic leverage over North Korea is the key to strong-arming Pyongyang into halting its nuclear weapons and missile programmes. The Aegis technology refers to missile tracking and guidance.
It's the first time since a 2007 exercise near Guam that three US carrier strike groups are operating together in the Western Pacific, according to the US Navy's 7th Fleet. The U.S. carriers will also participate in separate exercises with three Japanese destroyers on Sunday, according to Japan's Maritime Self-Defense Force.
The region, he added, must "stand united in declaring that every single step the North Korean regime takes toward more weapons is a step it takes into greater and greater danger".
Trump said in a speech at South Korea's parliament Wednesday, "Currently stationed in the vicinity of this peninsula are the three largest aircraft carriers in the world loaded to the maximum with magnificent F-35 and F-18 fighter jets". That includes a stern speech delivered in South Korea's National Assembly on Tuesday, in which he said: "Do not underestimate us".
During talks in Beijing Thursday, Trump urged Chinese leader Xi Jinping to work hard and act fast to help resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis, warning that "time is quickly running out".
'Reckless remarks by an old lunatic like Trump will never scare us or stop our advance, ' the North's Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
Seoul and Washington have recently carried out a series of drills to show off their military heft in response to the North's saber-rattling, such as its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on September 3 and a series of missile launches.