USS Nimitz headed towards South China Sea on Feb. 2, 2021 a few days after Chinese combat aircraft conducted a mock attack on USS Theodore Roosevelt.
The ships and aircraft of the two strike groups coordinated operations in a highly trafficked area to demonstrate the US Navy’s ability to operate in challenging environments.
According to the USS Theodore Roosevelt Public Affairs press release, as a part of dual-carrier operations, the strike groups conducted a multitude of exercises aimed at increasing interoperability between assets as well as command and control capabilities.
“Training with Carrier Strike Group Eleven in the South China Sea is a tremendously valuable opportunity,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) Nine. “Through operations like this, we ensure that we are tactically proficient to meet the challenge of maintaining peace and we are able to continue to show our partners and allies in the region that we are committed to promoting a Free and Open Indo-Pacific.”
Carrier Strike Group Nine and Carrier Strike Group Eleven last conducted dual-carrier operations on June 21, 2020, in the Philippine Sea.
The last time the US conducted dual-carrier operations in the South China Sea was in July 2020, when the Ronald Reagan and Nimitz carrier strike groups twice operated together in the South China Sea.
“Working cooperatively alongside Carrier Strike Group Nine improves our collective tactical skill while ensuring regional stability and security,” said Rear Adm. Jim Kirk, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11. “We are committed to ensuring the lawful use of the sea that all nations enjoy under international law.”
This exercise falls into a long history of the U.S. Navy operating in the Indo-Pacific. Dual carrier operations, like this one, are not new and are intended to maintain U.S. readiness and combat-credible forces to reassure allies and partners and preserve peace in the region.
CSG 9 consists of USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), Destroyer Squadron 23, and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Russell (DDG 59) and USS John Finn (DDG 113).
CSG 11 consists of the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17, guided-missile cruiser USS Princeton (CG 59), the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, USS Sterett (DDG 104), and Destroyer Squadron 9 and CSG 11 staffs. 7th Fleet is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet and employs 50 to 70 ships and submarines across the Western Pacific and Indian Oceans. 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a free and open Indo-Pacific region. USS Theodore Roosevelt departed San Diego for a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific on Dec. 23 while USS Nimitz departed Bremerton, Wash., on Apr. 27 for COMPTUEX and deployment following an onboard restriction of movement period that began on Apr. 1.
The Theodore Roosevelt and Nimitz Carrier Strike Groups are on scheduled deployments to the 7th Fleet area of operations. As the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed fleet, the 7th Fleet routinely operates and interacts with 35 maritime nations while conducting missions to preserve and protect a Free and Open Indo-Pacific Region.
Noteworthy, USS Nimitz headed towards South China Sea on Feb. 2, a few days after Chinese combat aircraft conducted a mock attack on USS Theodore Roosevelt and after US Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin ordered the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group to head home in the West Coast of the US.
As reported by Alert 5, on Jan. 30, Financial Times disclosed that intelligence collected by the US and its allies on Jan. 23, found that China had carried out a mock attack on USS Theodore Roosevelt that day when the warship transit the Bashi Channel south of Taiwan.
Intercepted communications of the H-6K crew revealed confirmation of orders to simulated targeting of the carrier and release of anti-ship missiles.
Data provided by Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense on that shows eight H-6K bombers heading towards the direction of the carrier. Four J-16 fighters and one KQ200 anti-submarine aircraft participated in the drill as well.
However, on Jan. 31 US Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) said in a statement that the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group is all Chinese military activities and no US Navy warships, aircraft or sailors were threatened.
Reuters quoted an anonymous official as saying that the Chinese aircraft did not come within 250 nautical miles of the ship.
Photo credit: Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Zachary Wheeler and Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Deirdre Marsac / U.S. Navy