Amid tensions along the South China Sea, the U.S. 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group has made its way into the disputed waters. The group has been nearby for the past three months, participating in a host of exercises with various allies in an effort to help maintain peace and stability in the region.
From the beginning, China has made it clear that it doesn’t appreciate U.S. presence along the South China Sea. The U.S. Department of Defense and President Barack Obama have longed maintained it will continue with its freedom of navigation exercise in the area with respect to the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea or UNCLOS. In response, China claimed that freedom of navigation does not extend to military vessels. Since the tensions started brewing this year, there have also been some incidents between the Chinese military and U.S. Navy.
Today, guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance (DDG 111), USS Momsen (DDG 92), and USS Decatur (DDG 73), with embarked Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 31 staff. It left Southern California back in April. Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander of the U.S. 3rd Fleet said, “This Surface Action Group continues to operate effectively throughout the Pacific and across the spectrum of missions they have been assigned.”
The group has been quite busy the past three months. For starters, Momsen and Decatur have been involved in a number of bilateral exercises with Japan, South Korea and France. Meanwhile, Spruance had taken part in the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) in the South China Sea. Among the initiative’s goals is increase the Coast Guard’s maritime domain awareness.
The U.S. Navy says it will continue to maintain a presence in the Indo Asia-Pacific region in order to “help preserve peace and security and to further partnership with friends and allies.”