For first time in a decade, three US carriers to exercise in Western Pacific

USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS Kitty Hawk (CV 63) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74) transit in formation during a joint photo exercise during Valiant Shield 2007. Photo: US Navy

US Navy aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) together with ships from their carrier strike groups are starting a joint exercise in the Western Pacific on November 11.

The US Navy often has two aircraft carriers in the region but this will be the first time in a decade for three carrier strike groups to exercise in the region.

Units assigned to the strike force will carry out four days of coordinated operations in international waters, demonstrating US Navy’s unique capability to operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force effort.

“It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three,” said US Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift. “Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the US Pacific Fleet’s unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region.”

While at sea, the strike force plans to conduct air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, close-in coordinated maneuvers and other training.

This is the first time that three carrier strike groups have operated together in the Western Pacific since exercises Valiant Shield 2006 and 2007 off the coast of Guam.

Both exercises focused on the ability to rapidly bring together forces from three strike groups in response to any regional situation. More recently, U.S. Navy aircraft carriers have conducted dual carrier strike group operations in the Western Pacific including in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Philippine Sea. These opportunities typically occur when strike groups deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations from the West Coast of the United States are joined with the forward deployed carrier strike group from Japan.

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