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PHILIPPINE SEA – The USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) strike groups commenced dual carrier flight operations in the Philippine Sea June 18.
The ships and aircraft assigned to both strike groups began coordinated operations in international waters demonstrating the United States unique capability to operate multiple carrier strike groups in close proximity.
While at sea, the strike groups conducted air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, long range strikes, coordinated maneuvers and other exercises.
“This is a great opportunity for us to train in a high end scenario.” said Rear Adm. John D. Alexander commander, Battle Force 7th Fleet and commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5. “We must take advantage of these opportunities to practice warfighting techniques that are required to prevail in modern naval operations.”
As a Pacific nation and a Pacific leader, the United States has a national interest in maintaining security and prosperity, peaceful resolution of disputes, unimpeded lawful commerce, and adherence to freedom of navigation and overflight throughout the shared domains of the Indo-Asia-Pacific. For more than 70 years, the U.S. Navy has been a persistent and stabilizing presence conducting operations throughout the region on a daily basis.
“Rear Adm. Alexander and I first flew together as a crew in an A-6 carrier-based aircraft in July 1988,” said Rear Adm. Marcus A. Hitchcock, commander of CSG 3. “Today, we continue that long history as our two Carrier Strike Groups maneuver together in the Philippine Sea. No other Navy can concentrate this much combat power on one sea or synchronize the activities of over 12,000 Sailors, 140 aircraft, six combatants and two carriers. It was truly impressive, and it is an important operational capability.”
U.S. Navy aircraft carriers have conducted dual carrier strike group operations in the Western Pacific including the South China Sea, East China Sea and Philippine Sea for several years. These operations typically occur when strike groups deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations from the West Coast of the United States are joined with the forward deployed carrier strike group from Japan.
In Sept. 2014, USS George Washington (CVN 73) and USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) strike groups conducted combined operations in the Western Pacific and in Sept. 2012 they operated in the South China Sea and East China Sea. In 2009, George Washington and USS Nimitz (CVN 68) operated together in the Western Pacific, and in 2001, USS Constellation (CV 64) and Carl Vinson operated together in the South China Sea.
“Working with Rear Adm. Hitchcock and Carrier Strike Group Three, during their deployment to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, has been a great opportunity for us to train on how we would operate multiple carrier strike groups in a contested environment,” said Alexander. “The U.S. Navy has flown, sailed and operated throughout the Western Pacific in accordance with international law for decades, and will continue to do so.”
CSG 3 consists of the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74), guided-missile cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG 53) and guided-missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 21, USS Stockdale (DDG 106), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110), and the aircraft of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 9. CSG 3 began operating in the Western Pacific Feb. 4.
CSG 5 consisting of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), guided-missile cruisers USS Shiloh (CG 67) and USS Chancellorsville (CG 62) and guided-missile destroyers from Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54), USS McCampbell (DDG 85), USS Benfold (DDG 65), and the aircraft of Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan and routinely, patrols the Western Pacific. CSG 5 commenced its summer patrol of the Indo-Asia Pacific, June 4.