Speaking in Taipei, Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen said US ships and aircraft carrying out a “freedom of navigation operations is reassuring. This demonstrates the clear U.S. attitude towards challenges to the security status quo in the Indo-Pacific region.”
“We are committed to ensuring the lawful use of the sea that all nations enjoy under international law,” Rear Admiral Jim Kirk, commander of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, said in a statement.
According to Greg Poling of the Center for Strategic & International Studies, “The US has been committed to the idea of freedom of the seas and nowhere is that under greater threat than in the South China Sea.”
A few days after a United States warship sailed near Chinese-controlled islands in the disputed South China Sea, two US carrier groups conduct joint exercises in the disputed waters in the South China Sea Tuesday—the USS Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group and the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group, two US supercarriers of the Nimitz class.
Beijing criticizes the U.S. “show of force” as not conducive to regional peace and stability.
The USS capabilities
- USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is a supercarrier of the United States Navy, and the lead ship of her class. One of the largest warships in the world, she was laid down, launched, and commissioned as CVAN-68, “aircraft carrier, attack, nuclear powered”, but she was later redesignated as CVN-68, “aircraft carrier, multi-mission, nuclear-powered”, on 30 June 1975, as part of a fleet-wide realignment that year.
- USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) is the fourth Nimitz-class, nuclear-powered, aircraft carrier in the United States Navy. She is named in honor of Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States and a proponent of naval power.
- USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) is an Arleigh Burke-class destroyer currently in the service of the United States Navy. She is part of the Destroyer Squadron 15 within the Seventh Fleet, and has her homeport at the Yokosuka Naval Base in Yokosuka, Japan.
The multitude of exercises of both the supercarrier groups is “aimed at increasing interoperability between assets as well as command and control capabilities,” the US Navy said. The event also marks the first dual-carrier operations in the busy waterway since July 2020.
However, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Wang Wenbin said, “China will continue to take necessary measures to firmly safeguard national sovereignty and security and work with countries in the region to firmly safeguard peace and stability in the South China Sea.”
Earlier, China condemned the sailing of the destroyer, the USS John S. McCain, near the Chinese-controlled Paracel Islands in what the United States calls freedom of navigation operation—the first such mission by the US Navy since President Joe Biden took office.
Last month, the US military said Chinese military flights over the South China Sea fit a pattern of destabilizing and aggressive behavior but posed no threat to a US Navy aircraft carrier strike group in the region.
The United States has contested China’s extensive territorial claims in the region, accusing it of militarizing the South China Sea and trying to intimidate neighbors such as Malaysia, the Philippines, and Vietnam, who have claims that overlap with China’s in the resource-rich area.
China has been infuriated by repeated US sailings near the islands it occupies and controls in the South China Sea. China says it has irrefutable sovereignty and has accused the United States of deliberately stoking tension.
China has also been angered by US warships sailing through the Taiwan Strait, including one last week, also the first such operation under the Biden administration.
Featured image: The aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) transits the Pacific Ocean 25 January 2020 on a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific. (Photo by U.S. Navy Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Kaylianna Genier)