June 15 (EIRNS)—For the first time in about three years, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Fleet has three aircraft carriers operating in the Pacific Ocean. The USS Nimitz is operating off the U.S. West Coast while the other two carriers, the Yokosuka-based USS Ronald Reagan and the USS Theodore Roosevelt, just recently freed from a COVID-19 outbreak, are operating at opposite ends of the Philippine Sea, according to the U.S. Naval Institute News Fleet and Marine Tracker.
CNN, citing a June 15 commentary in Global Times, is playing up the “swift reaction” from China, which likely sees them as a potential threat, in reaction to the deployments. Global Times quoted Chinese military experts saying that the United States is attempting to demonstrate to the whole region, and even the world, that it remains the most powerful naval force, as the ships could enter the South China Sea and threaten Chinese troops on the Xisha and Nansha Islands, as well as vessels passing through nearby waters, so that the U.S. could carry out its hegemonic politics, Li Jie, a Beijing-based naval expert, told Global Times.
China could counter the U.S. move by enhancing its own war preparedness and holding corresponding drills, telling the U.S. that China is capable of and determined to safeguard its territorial integrity, Li said.
“Carriers and carrier strike groups writ large are phenomenal symbols of American naval power. I really am pretty fired up that we’ve got three of them at the moment,” Rear Adm. Stephen Koehler, director of operations at Indo-Pacific Command in Hawaii, was quoted Associated Press on June 12.
The U.S. Pacific Fleet also announced, last week, that it had surged all of its nuclear attack submarines into operation. “The [Chinese navy] doesn’t know where those submarines are and that complicates any response calculations and planning,” said Carl Schuster, a former director of operations at the U.S. Pacific Command’s Joint Intelligence Center—especially when Beijing now also has to account for three aircraft carriers and their accompanying destroyers and cruisers.