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Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Now in the South China Sea

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is operating in the South China Sea, according to imagery posted by the Pentagon over the weekend.

Carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) were shown during a replenishment at sea operation in the South China Sea. A separate imagery set showed destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) in the same area. USS Nimitz (CVN-68) ands its strike group had been operating in the area in April before moving to the Philippine Sea in May. The Nimitz CSG now expected to be on the homeward-bound transit of its deployment.

The two carrier strike groups held drills with Japanese, French and Canadian ships from June 7-10 in the Philippine Sea and East China Sea as part of Indo-Pacific Command’s (INDOPACOM) Large Scale Global Exercise 2023 (LSGE23). The Reagan CSG participated in Exercise Noble Typhoon from June 10 to Wednesday with the three countries, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) said in a release on Thursday. The drill, part of LSGE23, took place from near Okinawa to the South China Sea.

JS Izumo (DDH-183), the lead ship of in the Izumo class of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), steams in the Philippine Sea, June 11, 2023. US Navy Photo

Ships included were:

U.S. Navy
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)

USS Antietam (CG-54), USS Robert Smalls (CG-62)

USS Rafael Peralta DDG-115), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93)
Fleet Oiler
USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204)

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force
Helicopter Destroyer
JS Izumo (DDH-183)

JS Samidare (DD-106)

Royal Canadian Navy

HMCS Montreal (FFH336)

French Navy
Frigate FS Lorraine (D657)

Noble Typhoon involved anti-surface, anti-air, anti-submarine and replenishment at sea drills between the ships and a French Navy social media post on Saturday stated that Lorraine was integrated into the Reagan CSG for the exercise.

Meanwhile Japan and the U.S. carried out deterrent demonstrations in response to North Korea launching two ballistic missiles into Japan’s Economic Exclusion Zone on Thursday.

Four F-2 fighters of the Japan Air Self Defense Force 8th Air Wing conducted tactical exercises with 4 U.S. F-35 Lightning II fighters and a KC-135 tanker over the Sea of Japan, the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of Japan’s Ministry of Defense said on Friday.

“This bilateral exercise reaffirms the strong will between Japan and the United States to respond to any situation, the readiness of Japan Self Defense Force and U.S. Armed Forces, and further strengthens the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-U.S. Alliance” stated the release.

On Monday, destroyers JS Haguro (DDG-180) and USS John Finn (DDG-113) carried out tactical exercises in the Sea of Japan in response to the North Korean launches, the JSO said in a statement.

Haguro is the second of the two Maya class destroyers equipped with the Aegis combat system and has a ballistic missile defense capability. The ship was commissioned in March 2021, making it the JMSDF’s youngest destroyer. Japan has a total of eight BMD capable destroyers comprising of four Kongo class, two Atago class and two Maya class destroyers with a new class of two Aegis destroyers planned to join them in 2027 and 2028. The exercises with Japan followed Friday’s announcement of the Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) arriving in Busan, South Korea.

The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN-727) departs Guam, on March 1, 2023. US Navy Photo

On Thursday, the U.S. Navy, JMSDF and Royal Australian Air Force wrapped up a maritime patrol aircraft exercise that began on June 3 and was carried out over the Pacific Ocean waters off Japan according to a Friday JMSDF release.

The exercise was held out of Misawa airbase and consisted of mission planning, a ground link exchange and aircraft rider exchanges. The RAAF No. 11 Squadron “Black Cat” is equipped with two P-8A aircraft, the JMSDF Air Patrol Squadron 2 “Odin” with one P-3C aircraft, and the USN Patrol Squadron (VP) 26 “Tridents” with one P-8A aircraft.

“It has been a great opportunity to host the Royal Australian Air Force in Japan and conduct trilateral exercises demonstrating the interoperability of the global maritime patrol force,” said Cmdr. Curtis White, executive officer of VP-26 in the Navy release.

The Navy release added that the participants also familiarized themselves with the maritime environment regarding maritime patrol during the exercise and that during the exercise the squadrons worked together to improve USN-JMSDF-RAAF data-link connectivity and enhanced interoperability. The JMSDF release stated that a JMSDF submarine took part in the exercise.

Source : USNINews