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The strike group of the American aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt returns to the South China Sea – The Diplomat


The US Seventh Fleet on April 6 announced that the carrier strike group Theodore Roosevelt entered the South China Sea two days earlier, on April 4, to conduct “routine operations”. This will be the second time this year the strike group – including the USS Theodore Roosevelt flag carrier, Aircraft Carrier Wing 11, the Ticonderoga class guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill, Destroyer Squadron 23 and the guided Arleigh Burke class – the missile destroyer USS Russell – entered the waters as part of a mission within the 7th Fleet’s operational area.

As stated by the 7th Fleet“While in the South China Sea, the attack team will conduct fixed and rotary wing operations, sea attack drills, anti-submarine operations, coordinated tactical training, etc.”

“It is great to be back in the South China Sea to reassure our allies and partners that we remain committed to protecting freedom at sea,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander of the Attack Group. said carrier number 9.

“During the strike group deployment, we have demonstrated our commitment to the rules-based order in the Indo-Pacific by working with our friends from Australia. , India, Japan, Malaysia and Korea. We look forward to continuing to sail with all those who share our shared vision of security and stability in one of the most important regions in the world, ”added Verissimo in the statement.

The attacker group practiced exercises with the Indian navy and air force in the Bay of Bengal in late March. According to 7th Fleet declare On this occasion, the exercises focused on anti-submarine warfare, joint air combat and integrated command and control.

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Theodore Roosevelt’s return to the South China Sea comes amid growing regional tensions – if left unchecked – at risk of flare-up, as analysts continue to fear over China’s coercive posture. State over Taiwan and its use of maritime militias to enforce illegal claims in the South China Sea, most recently within the exclusive economic zone (EEZ) of the Philippines.

Media reported that a Chinese attack group around the aircraft carrier Liaoning was currently doing exercises in the vicinity of Taiwan. A Japan Times report April 6 citing a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLA) Navy statement stating that the purpose behind this “routine” exercise was to “enhance the ability to protect national sovereignty, safety and interests. development ”, continuing to add that“[s]Similar drills will be conducted regularly in the future. “

According to the newspaper, Taiwan also reported an attack by the PLA Air Force on its air defense identification area on April 4.

Meanwhile, dozens of Chinese “shipping ships” (44, according to Manila data on 3 April) remained. rest near Whitsun Reef, a site located in the Philippines’ exclusive economic zone in the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea. While China claims that these ships are commercial ships stranded there due to extreme weather, the US and the Philippines – as well as international analysts – insist they are part of the militia force. China’s maritime has the duty to step by step enforce its vast maritime claims without triggering military retaliation.

According to one White House newsletter During a call between US National Security Advisor Jake Sullivan and Philippine National Security Advisor Hermogenes Esperon on March 31, the two discussed the Whitsun Reef events, with Sullivan reaffirming “The possibility of applying the US-Philippines Joint Defense Treaty in the South China Sea.”

On April 1, Philippines claims Illegal construction was discovered on Union Banks, a collection of reefs in Trường Sa including the Whitsun Reef, while conducting maritime patrols. Manila did not provide further details on the locations of these structures, if independently verified, that likely had been erected by order of China to continue its territorial claim.

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