It is a show of force that can hopefully make China think twice about making any more aggressive actions along the disputed waters of the South China Sea. Today, the U.S. has not one, but two strike groups making dual operations in the Philippine Sea.
The United States says it is a “Pacific leader” that continues to have a healthy national interest in ensuring that there is security as well as “adherence to freedom of navigation and overflight” throughout the Indo-Asia-Pacific. This is why the country continues to make a “stabilizing presence” in the said region.
As part of this continuous goal, the USS John C. Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan strike groups, which are part of Carrier Strike Group 3 and Carrier Strike Group 5 respectively, had started conducting what is being called as “dual carrier flight operations” in the Philippine Sea last June 18. While together, these groups will conducting some air defense drills along with exercises such as air combat training, long range strikes, coordinated maneuvers and sea surveillance.
“We must take advantage of these opportunities to practice warfighting techniques that are required to prevail in modern naval operations,” explains Rear Adm. John D. Alexander commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet and commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5. The exercise is an impressive show of power with the two carriers bringing in six combatants, 140 aircraft and as much as 12,000 sailors together. “It is an important operational capability,” remarks Rear Adm. Marcus A. Hitchcock, commander of CSG 3.
According to the U.S. Navy, Carrier Strike Group 3, which has been operating in the Western Pacific is made up of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and the aircraft of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9.
Meanwhile, Carrier Strike Group 5, which has started it’s summer patrol of the Indo-Asia-Pacific in June 4 is made up of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), guided-missile cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and guided-missile destroyers from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Benfold (DDG 65), and the aircraft of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5. It is forward-deployed in Yokosuka, Japan and patrols the Western Pacific.
China is yet to comment on the U.S. dual carrier operations.