Posted by: Chuck | August 4, 2013

US 7th Fleet Strike Group Are To Guard South China Sea Confront Chinese Navy Warships

Published on Oct. 26, 2012

US Navy to Guard “Freedom Of Navigation” in Asia Pacific.
Operation Enduring Freedom: US 7th Fleet are back in South China Sea. 5 US Warships docked in the Philippines. USS George Washington Carrier Strike Group are in the Philippines for a 5 day goodwill visit. 2 USS destroyers and a super carrier in Manila Bay and 2 USS destroyers in Palawan.

China will take this (cruise) as another expression by the United States of its desire to maintain regional domination, said Denny Roy, a senior fellow at the East-West Center in Hawaii. The U.S also wants to send a message to the region that it is here for the long haul … and that it wants to back up international law.

The captain of a US supercarrier said Thursday the US Navy’s presence in Asia would help safeguard “freedom of navigation”, amid China’s claims to sovereignty over vast waters in the region.

The commander of the USS George Washington, which is on a port call to the Philippine capital, said the United States was not taking sides in territorial disputes but stood firmly for keeping sea lanes open.

“One of the reasons we deploy throughout the region is so we can carry forth the banner of freedom of navigation. It is very important to us given the trade that travels throughout the region on the seas,” Captain Gregory Fenton said.

However Fenton emphasised his ship’s visit to Manila was a routine event and not related to the recent tensions between the Philippines, a close US ally, and China over rival claims to parts of the South China Sea.

Two more US warships have docked in Palawan, the island province that has territorial jurisdiction over some of the Philippines-claimed islands in the disputed West Philippine Sea.

US authorities identified the ships as the USS John McCain and the USS Mustin.

An official of the Armed Forces of the Philippines (AFP) -Western Command (Wescom) confirmed that the two US naval vessels arrived Monday two days ahead of the arrival of the aircraft carrier USS George Washington at the Manila Bay.

The USS George Washington, the US Navy’s only forward-deployed carrier, is accompanied by guided missile destroyer USS McCampbell and USS Cowpens, a Ticonderoga-class guided missile cruiser. Both McCampbell and Cowpens are now docked at pier 15 in the Manila South Harbor.

Asked about the presence of the two US ships in Palawan, Lt. Col. Neil Estrella, the Wescom spokesman, said that just like USS George Washington, USS McCain and USS Mustin are in the country also for a five-day regular port call.

“They are here for port calls. Foreign naval ships regularly visit us as part of fellowship and to enhance friendship between allied nations,” said Estrella.

The docking of the US warships in Palawan came at the same time Chinese Navy vessels were spotted in the West Philippine Sea.

Estrella said USS McCain and USS Mustin, currently in Puerto Princesa City, are also part of the USS George Washington carrier strike group.

On Thursday, USS George Washington commanding officer Capt. Gregory Fenton said, “I would characterize this port visit as a routine port visit, as a breaker from our normal operations which we conduct.”

Fenton said they are “very sensitive to the areas that are under dispute” such that they “do make a very conscious effort to stay away from those areas.”

“I believe that we are firmly committed to helping support the nations that are involved in those disputes. But ideally, we’d like to see them sort out those disputes via diplomatic channels,” he added.

He stressed, however, that their presence in the area would help safeguard freedom of navigation.

“One of the reasons we deploy throughout the region is so we can carry forth the banner of freedom of navigation. It is very important to us, given the trade that travels throughout the region on the seas,” said Fenton.



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