A day after Chinese media mocked the Biden administration for pitting fighter jets against a surveillance balloon and other unknown “objects,” a United States Navy carrier strike group was deployed back to the international waters of the South China Sea.
Watching China from the South China Sea
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (NIMCSG) and Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group (MK ARG), with the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (13th MEU), began integrated expeditionary strike force (ESF) operations in the neutral waters that area claimed by Beijing as sovereign territory.
The drills involved a number of warships, ground forces, and aircraft.
China claims nearly the entirety of the South China Sea and strongly objects to any military activity by other nations in the waterway – through which $5 trillion in goods are shipped annually.
Washington has no official position on the sovereignty of the waters but maintains that freedom of navigation and overflight must be preserved.
The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group is currently underway in the 7th Fleet conducting routine operations – and it is the U.S. Navy’s largest forward-deployed numbered fleet. It routinely interacts and operates with Allies and partners in preserving a free and open Indo-Pacific region.
Show of U.S. Strength
The recent drills are meant to highlight the abilities of the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to maintain an asymmetric advantage in a maritime environment.
The Nimitz ESFs ability to operate seamlessly and simultaneously on the sea, ashore, and in the air, represents the unique value of amphibious capability provided by the Makin Island ARG and 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit, the Navy announced on Sunday.
“The Nimitz Expeditionary Strike Force operations reinforce our integrated joint force capabilities,” said Rear Adm. Christopher Sweeney, commander, Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 11. “Combining the capabilities of CSG 11 with ARG/MEU, we expand the options this blue-green team provides the joint force commander, and increase our ability to create theater-wide effects in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Participating NIMCSG units include the aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68), the lead ship of the U.S. Navy’s class of nuclear-powered multiple-mission aircraft carriers; and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Decatur (DDG 73), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG 93), and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG 108) of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 9; and the squadrons of embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 17.
The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group includes units from Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 7 and the 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU).
PHIBRON 7 consists of the Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Makin Island (LHD 8), a warship larger than the aircraft carriers of many foreign navies; and the amphibious transport docks USS Anchorage (LPD 23).
The 13th MEU also includes Battalion Landing Team 2nd Marines, 4th Battalion, Combat Logistics Battalion 13, Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron 362 (Reinforced), and Marine Fighter Attack Squadron 122.
“Makin Island’s ability to integrate with Carrier Strike Group 11 amplifies the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps’ dedication to our Allies and partners in the region by providing that persistent presence,” said Capt. Tony Chavez, commanding officer of Makin Island.
“As a ready response force, we underpin a broad spectrum of missions including landing Marines ashore, humanitarian disaster relief, and deterring potential adversaries through visible and present combat power.”
The weekend’s exercises were planned in advance but came as tensions remain high between Washington and Beijing. The presence of the warships won’t likely calm matters, but could be seen to solve America’s resolve. China is surely watching closely.
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Author Experience and Expertise
A Senior Editor for 19FortyFive, Peter Suciu is a Michigan-based writer. He has contributed to more than four dozen magazines, newspapers, and websites with over 3,200 published pieces over a twenty-year career in journalism. He regularly writes about military hardware, firearms history, cybersecurity, politics, and international affairs. Peter is also a Contributing Writer for Forbes and Clearance Jobs. You can follow him on Twitter: @PeterSuciu.