- Supercarriers USS John C. Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan began drills in Philippine Sea
- American official familiar with the operation said drill is unmistakeably aimed at China
- Commander of USS John Stennis also reported they were shadowed by a Chinese ship
Two powerful US supercarrier battle groups are currently conducting extensive naval drills in the Philippine Sea—a move described by an American official as unmistakably aimed at China.
On its official website, the US Pacific Command (PACOM) announced the presence of the USS John C. Stennis and USS Ronald Reagan battle groups in the Philippine Sea. The statement revealed that they are currently conducting naval exercises including air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, long range strikes, and coordinated maneuvers.
Rear Admiral John D. Alexander, Battle Force 7th Fleet and Carrier Strike Group 5 Commander, said the drills are an opportunity for the US Navy to practice sound modern warfare operations.
“We must take advantage of these opportunities to practice war-fighting techniques that are required to prevail in modern naval operations,” he said.
Without mentioning China, PACOM clarified that the drills are meant to reflect the US’s long-standing policy 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.”
However, a US official, speaking on condition of anonymity, told Press TV that the exercises were undoubtedly a show of force against China. According to him, the message was “unmistakable, and the timing was deliberate.”
Gregory Huffman, commander of the Stennis, also told Reuters that a Chinese spy ship closely shadowed his carrier as it was making its way to join the exercises in the Philippine Sea.
“There is a Chinese vessel about seven to 10 miles away,” he told reporters aboard the ship.