The aircraft carriers Nimitz and Reagan are now in the South China Sea for drills in a move likely to irk Beijing
“The purpose is to show an unambiguous signal to our partners and allies that we are committed to regional security and stability,” Rear Adm. George Wikoff told the Wall Street Journal, which was the first media to report the exercises likely to irk Beijing.
The drills, to support a free and open Indo-Pacific and promote an international rules-based order, also included “round-the-clock flights testing the striking ability of carrier-based aircraft,” he added.
U.S. aircraft carriers USS Reagan and USS Nimitz and four other warships will be in the South China Sea for naval exercises while the Chinese navy holds drills there https://t.co/wkiMmQF9oE
— The Wall Street Journal (@WSJ) July 4, 2020
The South China Sea is where China is pitted against smaller neighbors in multiple territorial disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons. The waters are a major shipping route for global commerce and are rich in fish and possible oil and gas reserves.
China’s People’s Liberation Army had been staging exercises off the Paracel Islands in the disputed South China Sea since July 1, angering the Philippines, and Chinese maritime officials have prohibited all vessels from navigating within the area of the maneuvers.
In another message to China, a B-52 bomber from Louisiana flew a 28-hour mission to train with jets from the aircraft carriers Reagan and Nimitz in the South China Sea, according to the Air Force.
To mark today’s 169th consecutive day at sea, the island on USS Dwight D. Eisenhower @TheCVN69 is lit up & the hull number is transformed from "69" to "169" to commemorate a new milestone on this @USNavy record-setting deployment.#AmericasAwayTeam #ForceToBeReckonedWith pic.twitter.com/lBbWQUaxBc
— U.S. 5th Fleet (@US5thFleet) July 3, 2020
Elsewhere in the fleet, the USS Dwight D. Eisenhower has been at sea now for over 169 straight days since leaving Norfolk in January. Other warships in the Ike strike group have also been underway for at least five months.
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson and The Associated Press contributed to this report.
Author: Frank Miles
Source: Fox News: US, China ramp up South China Sea tension with new military drills