The $3.8 billion super ship is there for a specific reason — the United States Navy says it’s all part of its largest multinational disaster response exercises in the Indo-Pacific region.
Yet while they are right, there seems to be another reason at play — local press suggests the move is a big ‘F-you’ to China, which has continued to build military infrastructure in the disputed region that includes hangars, underground storage and missile shelters.
This is despite a ruling from an international tribunal in The Hague that summarised China had no historic title over its waters.
The ship has been sailing through the disputed waters and local media is reporting jet fighters and helicopters engaging in missions “day and night” in the area, for reasons “ship officials refused to divulge” .
Britain is set to do the same next month when it sends an anti-frigate submarine from Australia through the area to assert freedom of navigation rights.
“She’ll be sailing through the South China Sea (on the way home) and making it clear our navy has a right to do that,” Defence Secretary Gavin Williamson told The Australian .
The USS Carl Vinson carries 72 aircraft, some of which are surveillance planes.
“When they put a carrier strike group somewhere it helps to show that the United States is interested,” the ship’s commanding officer, Captain Doug Verissimo, told the ABC.
“We don’t have a lot of these, so when you put one in a certain area it has some influence.
“Of course it also gives our diplomats time and space to negotiate and make decisions, ultimately to try and prevent any type of armed conflict.” Seen behind the Philippines national flag, the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson anchors off Manila, Philippines, during a five-day port call. Picture: Bullit Marquez Source:AP Photos show Beijing’s militarisation of the South China Sea in new detail on the aptly named Mischief Reef. Picture: Inquirer.net/Philippine Daily Inquirer Source:Supplied
Part of America’s Pacific Third Fleet, the Carl Vinson is striking its way through the sea with three other ships including a guided-missile destroyer. Despite keeping themselves hidden away, theyhave formed a protective shield around the Carl Vinson’s barrier.
The Carl Vinson Strike Group’s commander, Rear Admiral John Fuller, wouldn’t say where the Fleet will sail on its mission but insists it is within international law and not complicated by China’s “Nine Dash Line”, which is China’s reimagining of the area it claims to own.
“I will say our navigation is very good and we know where international law says we can operate and I know where international law says we can’t. And we’re going to do what international law says we can do,” Rear Admiral Fuller told the ABC . China is accused of building ‘island fortresses’ across Fiery Cross Reef. Photograph: Inquirer.net/Philippine Daily Inquirer An F-18 Hornet fighter jet prepares to take off from the flight deck of the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson as the carrier strike group takes part in a routine deployment mission in the South China Sea. Picture: Ayee Macaraig […]