For the first time since 2017, the US has three aircraft carriers patrolling the Pacific, part of Washington’s efforts to increase its footprint in the region to confront China. The USS Theodore Roosevelt, the USS Nimitz, and the USS Ronald Reagan are all leading strike groups in the Indo-Pacific.
The deployments are likely a show of force by Washington to quash rumors that the Navy is crippled by coronavirus. The USS Theodore Roosevelt was docked in Guam to deal with an outbreak on board, until it set sail again on June 4th.
The Associated Press reported on the deployments on Friday and quoted a US commander as saying he was “fired up” to see such a show of force. “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 Admiral Stephen Koehler, director of operations at Indo-Pacific Command, said.
The strike groups are seen as a provocation towards China. The US regularly sails warships near contested islands in the South China Sea and through the Taiwan Strait. Last week, the US military flew an airplane over Taiwan, an act Beijing denounced as “illegal” and “seriously provocative.”