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SOUTH CHINA SEA - Participating units of a U.S. 3rd Fleet Pacific Surface Action Group (PAC SAG) reunited while on routine patrol in the South China Sea, June 27 after conducting nearly three months of theater security operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
Guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance (DDG 111), USS Momsen (DDG 92), and USS Decatur (DDG 73), with embarked Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 31 staff, deployed to the Western Pacific and South China Sea since departing the waters of Southern California in April.
"This Surface Action Group continues to operate effectively throughout the Pacific and across the spectrum of missions they have been assigned," said Vice Adm. Nora Tyson, commander, U.S. 3rd Fleet. "Their deployment is an important part of the '3rd Fleet Forward' concept and we are proud of their performance thus far."
For the past three months, Momsen and Decatur conducted several bilateral exercises with the Republic of Korea, France and Japan which highlighted numerous evolutions to include anti-submarine warfare, maneuvering drills, gunnery exercises and visit, board, search and seizure subject matter expert exchanges. They also had the opportunity to engage with U.S. Air Force and U.S. Marine Corps air assets in small force events.
"For years the Navy has maintained a steadfast presence in the Pacific Fleet and this SAG is proving to be a valuable asset for stability and relations with our partner nations," said Capt. Charles Johnson, commander, Destroyer Squadron 31. "Through these exercises and security operations we have already begun to enhance our relationships and strategic coordination with our Pacific partners; interoperability."
Spruance participated in the Oceania Maritime Security Initiative (OMSI) in the South China Sea. OMSI is a Secretary of Defense program leveraging Department of Defense assets transiting the region to increase the Coast Guard's maritime domain awareness, ultimately supporting its maritime law enforcement operations in Oceania.
"OMSI demonstrates the ability to partner with not only military agencies, but local agencies," said Cmdr. Manuel Hernandez, commanding officer, USS Spruance. "The ability to leverage the unique capacity and capabilities of the U.S. Navy, the U.S. Coast Guard and their experience in law enforcement, [U.S. Defense Attache Office], Foreign Fisheries Agency, and our partner nations in the area in support of the security and stability, and therefore the prosperity of the Asia-Pacific region is incredible."
The PAC SAG deployment also emphasized cultural exchanges in the Pacific with 10 community service projects held during five separate port calls.
"Community service is important because it provides an opportunity for our Sailors to give back to the communities that host us as we accomplish our mission," said Lt. Cmdr. Glenn Flemming, CDS-31 chaplain. "Community service also provides a venue for us to come alongside our partners to jointly and positively impact the people of our host nations. Our Sailors engaging people around the world in positive efforts will leave a lasting and impact long after we have gone back to sea."
The U.S. Navy maintains a presence in the Indo Asia-Pacific region to help preserve peace and security and to further partnerships with friends and allies. The forward presence contributes to freedom of navigation and lawful use of the sea, as well as furthers operational training and enables an exchange of culture, skills, and tactical knowledge.
Under the operational control of U.S. 3rd Fleet, the PAC SAG conducts routine patrols, maritime security operations, and theater cooperation activities to enhance regional security and stability.
U.S. 3rd Fleet works constantly with U.S. 7th Fleet. The forces of both fleets complement one another across the spectrum of military operations in the Pacific.