By Izer, Press Insider Daily, June 15, 2020
USS Ronald Reagan and USS Theodore Roosevelt were both on patrol in the western Pacific, while USS Nimitz in the east, according to a US Navy press release.
With each ship containing more than 60 aircraft, it is the largest deployment of US aircraft carriers in the Pacific since 2017 – when tensions with North Korea over Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program are at its peak.
“Operators and large aircraft carrier strike groups are a phenomenal symbol of American naval power. I am really excited that we have three of them at this time,” Rear Admiral Stephen Koehler, director of operations at the Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, told AP.
On Sunday, a spokesman for the Communist Party’s Global Times said that the aircraft carrier could threaten troops in the disputed South China Sea.
“By deploying this aircraft carrier, the US is trying to show the entire region and even the world that it remains the most powerful naval force, because they can enter the South China Sea and threaten Chinese forces on the islands of Xisha and Nansha (Paracel) and the Spratly islands. ) and ships passing through the nearest waters, so that the US can do its hegemonic politics, ” Global Times Report quoted Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, as saying.
The report – posted on the official website of the People’s Liberation Army – also highlighted the weapons available to the Chinese military, adding that Beijing could hold exercises in response to exhibiting weapons.
“China has aircraft carrier killing weapons such as DF-21D and DF-26 anti-ship ballistic missiles,” the story said.
The deployment means that three out of seven active US Navy aircraft carriers are in the Pacific. The other four are at the port for maintenance.
Collin Koh, a researcher at the Institute for Defense and Strategic Studies in Singapore, said China reacted violently because the presence of the aircraft carrier was contrary to the US Navy’s portrayal of Beijing as a force paralyzed by the coronavirus pandemic.
“That is contrary to the narrative China wants to put forward that the US is under pressure in the Pacific,” Koh said.Indeed, Roosevelt returned to sea on June 4 after spending weeks at a port on Guam following a coronavirus outbreak on board in March, when more than 1,000 of the nearly 4,900 crew members tested positive.
“We have returned Theodore Roosevelt to the sea as a symbol of hope and inspiration, and an instrument of national power because we are TR,” Roosevelt’s commander, Captain Carlos Sardiello, said in a statement.
Reagan returned to sea at the end of May after crew members were placed under limited movement at his home port in Japan to ensure it was deployed without the Covid-19 case. It was also loaded with more than 1,000 tons of weaponry – “enough combat strength to make the ship sit five inches lower in the water line,” a US Navy statement said.
The move comes after the US Pacific Fleet said last month that all submarines deployed forward were at sea carrying out operations in the western Pacific. No figures were given, but experts said it might involve more than eight ships that were difficult to track, fast attack.
Carl Schuster, former director of operations at the US Pacific Command Joint Intelligence Center, said it was no accident.
“(The Chinese Navy) does not know where the submarine is and that makes it difficult to calculate responses and planning,” he said – especially when Beijing must now also be responsible for three aircraft carriers and the destroyers and cruisers that accompany it.
The spread also occurred at a time when tensions were rising between Washington and Beijing in the South China Sea and Taiwan.
Last week, a US Navy C-40 transport plane, the equivalent of a Boeing 737, flew over Taiwan on its way to Thailand with what the Navy said was a routine logistical flight. US jets were diverted to Taiwan, which China considers part of its territory, by Taiwanese air controllers, US Navy spokesman Reann Mommsen told CNN.
But Beijing called the flight “an unlawful act and serious provocation,” Xinhua news agency said.
“Aviation that is too high destroys China’s sovereignty, security and development interests and violates international law and basic norms that guide international relations,” the Xinhua story said, quoting Zhu Fenglian, spokesman for the Office of Taiwan’s State Council Affairs.
On June 4, the US Navy sent missiles with missile control through the Taiwan Strait, which separates the island from mainland China. And in the South China Sea, waters of 1.3 million square miles that most of Beijing claims to be its sovereign territory, US warships have done a lot of freedom of navigation operations this year. US B-1 bombers and reconnaissance aircraft are also active.