by WorldTribune Staff, February 19, 2017
The U.S. deployed an aircraft carrier group to the South China Sea on Feb. 18, one day after China completed naval exercises in the disputed waters.
The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson along with guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer were sent as part of “routine operations,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.
Related: Greatest hits, No. 5: Pentagon gives Beijing ultimatum on militarizing the South China Sea, January 6, 2017
Rear Adm. James Kilby, commander of the Vinson strike group, told Navy News Service that “the training completed over the past few weeks has really brought the team together and improved our effectiveness and readiness as a strike group. We are looking forward to demonstrating those capabilities while building upon existing strong relationships with our allies, partners and friends in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region.”
Carrier Strike Group 1 includes the Vinson (CVN 70), the Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108), and aircraft from Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2. The Vinson carries a flight group of more than 60 aircraft.
CVW-2 includes the “Black Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4, the “Blue Hawks” of Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) 78, the “Bounty Hunters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 2, the “Blue Blasters” of VFA-34, the “Kestrels” of VFA-137, the “Golden Dragons” of VFA-1
92, the “Black Eagles” of Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) 113, the “Gauntlets” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 136 and the “Providers” of Fleet Logistic Support Squadron (VRC) 30.
China on Feb. 17 had wrapped up war games involving its own Liaoning aircraft carrier which, reports said, had unnerved neighbors with which Beijing has long-running territorial disputes in the South China Sea.
The Vinson’s deployment marks the second high-profile U.S. Navy vessel operation in the South China Sea this month. The littoral combat ship USS Coronado, which is temporarily based in Singapore, had earlier conducted training operations in the area, according to the Navy.
“While underway, we are conducting training across multiple mission areas including weapons training, manned and unmanned flight operations, ship handling, and damage control drills,” said Cmdr. Scott Larson, the Coronado’s commanding officer. “Training at sea in these warfare areas maintains crew proficiency and ensures we are ready to operate successfully in a variety of missions.”