US navy deploys aircraft carrier group into South China Sea: Report

An F/A-18F Super Hornet making an arrested landing on the USS John C. Stennis. PHOTO: THE NEW PAPER

WASHINGTON - The United States Navy has deployed an aircraft carrier and several ships into the disputed waters of the South China Sea in recent days, the Washington Post reported on Thursday (March 3).

The carrier USS John C. Stennis, arrived in the South China Sea on Tuesday (March 1) accompanied by the cruiser USS Mobile Bay and the destroyers USS Stockdale and USS Chung-Hoon, said Navy Commander Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Pacific Fleet, the paper reported.

Doss said the aircraft carrier group is carrying out a routine patrol of the South China Sea and would make regular appearances in the waters, where tensions have risen over China's territorial disputes with Vietnam and the Philippines.

The deployment of the group, along with thousands of US sailors, comes as the Japan-based USS Antietam cruiser is also patrolling the South China Sea. Another destroyer and an amphibious dock landing ship had also made similar patrols last week, the paper cited Doss as saying.

The US, which has been sailing near the disputed areas to emphasise the right of freedom of navigation, had warned China this week against its recent actions, such as the deployment of surface-to-air missiles on the disputed Woody Island s and Beijing's land reclamations in the Spratly islands.

The latest show of force also comes after the US military said Wednesday (March 2) the US, Japan and India will hold naval exercises in waters off the northern Philippines near the South China Sea this year.

Along with China, Vietnam and the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Taiwan also have claims on the waters, through which about US$5 trillion (S$7 trillion) in trade is shipped every year.

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