US intensifies operations in South China Sea after denouncing Beijing's maritime claims
The US Navy said the presence of two carriers in the South China Sea is part of regular integration to exercise and develop tactical interoperability.
The US has continued high-end dual-carrier exercises in the South China Sea on July 16-17, just days after Washington rejected Beijing’s claims in this disputed sea.
|The Nimitz and Ronald Reagan CSGs are conducting dual-carrier operations as the Nimitz Carrier Strike Force. Photo: US Navy|
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) and Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group continue to demonstrate operational commitment to allies and partners in the region, providing combatant commanders with significant operational flexibility if needed in response to regional situations, according to the US Navy.
“Nimitz and Reagan Carrier Strike Groups are operating in the South China Sea, wherever international law allows, to re-inforce our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, a rules based international order, and to our allies and partners in the region,” said Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander, Nimitz Carrier Strike Group.
“Security and stability is essential to peace and prosperity for all nations, and it is for that reason the US Navy has been present and ready in the Pacific for over 75 years.”
Nimitz and Ronald Reagan CSGs continue to leverage the teamwork of over 12,000 sailors and marines to conduct tactical air defense exercises, in order to maintain warfighting readiness and proficiency. The two-carrier strike force trains to the highest levels of readiness to ensure responsiveness to any contingency through power projection.
The US Navy said the presence of two carriers in the South China Sea is not in response to any specific political or world events, but is part of regular integration to exercise and develop tactical interoperability.
For more than 75 years, the US Navy has been operating multiple carrier strike force operations in the region, the Navy added.
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group consists of aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 53), and guided-missile destroyers USS Sterett (DDG 104) and USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114), and is currently deployed conducting maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts.
The US Navy exercise involves both the USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76). The carriers were joined by a full complement of escort ships and Japanese Navy vessels. The USS Ronald Reagan carrier battle group returned to the South China Sea on Friday.
The combat capability of four Flankers, in isolation, is modest when compared to a US Navy carrier strike group. But their deployment does send a message, regardless of the motive.
Forbes reported that the two US aircraft carriers performed their second exercise in the South China Sea in two weeks amid mounting tensions between Washington and Beijing.
US Defense Secretary Mark Esper has tweeted “Freedom of navigation is an important principle--since its inception, the US Navy has faithfully protected that principle.”
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