room for error as fighter jets take off from the USS Ronald Reagan, the American aircraft carrier running routine drills in South China Sea. A task that's becoming trickier by the day, as tensions rise in Asia. US Navy officers say they're working hard to keep one eye on North Korea, and the other on Beijing.
Reuters Greg Torode reports from onboard the Reagan, which is navigating increasingly crowded waters.>> Commanders talk about the broad concerns of protracted tensions on the Korean Peninsula and the need to maintain full operational readiness day to day. At the same time, in the disputed South China Sea, where we're sailing now, we can see just off each side of the ship within line of sight, two Chinese frigates.
Which is a reminder that wherever you look in the region tensions are not very far away.>> The US continues to fly the flag for freedom of navigation in the South China Sea, which is almost entirely claimed by Beijing. And the Ronald Reagan is a big part of that.
As China aggressively builds up its military presence, US commanders say they sometimes have to send nearby Chinese ships a heads up before changing course to avoid a confrontation. And while policing the waters of the South China Sea is no small task, the navy now has another major situation to keep track of as Kim Jong-un refuses to back down on missile and nuclear tests.
>> United States have been very clear about leveraging all options in order to get North Korea to change its path. And USS Ronald Reagan operates in this region in support of stability and security and we are ready to defend ourselves and our allies, especially the Republic of Korea and Japan as needed.
>> The Ronald Reagan is the only American aircraft carrier deployed outside the US, and it's had a busy few months, recently wrapping up a series of military exercises with allies Australia and Japan, with another set planned with South Korea later this month.