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US deploys two carrier groups to the doorstep of South China Sea 

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11:14 | 23/06/2020

On June 21, two strike carrier groups of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CNV71) and USS Nimitz (CVN68) were deployed to join in dual carrier flight operations in Phillippines maritime area, the doorstep leading to the South China Sea as tensions between Washington and Beijing continue to soar.

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This is the first time since 2017, the US Navy implemented three of its carriers to the threshold of the disputed South China Sea.

On Sunday, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet said the USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz carrier strike groups had begun dual carrier flight operations in the Philippine Sea.

The two strike groups were scheduled to conduct air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, long-range strike drills, coordinated maneuvers and other exercises, according to a statement.

The exercise affirmed not include any attacks or specific war moves, is intended to ensure that U.S. carrier power-projection is ready, capable, and highly functional should it need to launch coordinated combat operations in the area.

Japan Times cited analysts assessed the move also implies a message to China that the US Navy will remain its strong presence in the area despite the ongoing complicated Covid-19 situation.

us deploys two carrier groups to the doorstep of south china sea
Illustrative photo.

“This is a great opportunity for us to train together in a complex scenario,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander of Carrier Strike Group 9. “By working together in this environment, we’re improving our tactical skills and readiness in the face of an increasingly pressurized region and COVID-19.”

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Separately, the Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture-based USS Ronald Reagan and its strike group was also conducting operations in the Phiippine Sea, according to photos released by the Pacific Fleet.

While it was not clear where in the Philippine Sea the U.S. carriers were operating as of Sunday — or where they would head to next — the Luzon Strait between Taiwan and the Philippines is the entryway into the flash point South China Sea.

Beijing claims much of the South China Sea, though the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims in the waters where the Chinese, U.S., Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies routinely operate.

US keeps a strong presence in the region for years

According to Defenceconnect, the US said to have a national interest in maintaining security and prosperity, peaceful resolution of disputes, unimpeded lawful commerce, and adherence to freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the shared domains of the Indo-Pacific.

Rear Admiral James Kirk, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11, said, "The United States Navy has a long history of operating multiple carrier strike groups as a combined force in the Pacific."

us deploys two carrier groups to the doorstep of south china sea
USS Theodore Roosevelt.

RADM Verissimo added, "Working with RADM Kirk and Carrier Strike Group 11 during their deployment is a great opportunity for us to train on how we would operate multiple carrier strike groups in a contested environment."Our operations demonstrate the resilience and readiness of our naval force and are a powerful message of our commitment to regional security and stability as we protect the critically important rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea for the benefit of all nations."

"US aircraft carriers possess flexibility, endurance, firepower, maneuverability and capability unmatched in the history of warfare."

The strike groups will support air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, long-range strikes, coordinated maneuvers and other exercises, the Navy statement explained.

According to Yahoo, not only do these types of operations extend the Navy’s ability to attack inland targets to a larger extent, extend target-searching dwell time and enable coordinated multi-platform strikes, but they also greatly improve destroyer-and-cruiser launched missile attacks. Each Carrier Strike Group consists of a carrier, cruiser and two destroyers, bringing a large, integrated combination of sea-launched assets.

CSG 11 consists of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 53) and guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9, which includes USS Sterett (DDG 104), USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17.

CSG 9 consists of the aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 53) and guided-missile destroyers from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 23, USS Russell (DDG 59), USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115), and Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11.

Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for a scheduled Indo-Pacific deployment on 17 January, while Nimitz departed on 8 June.

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