US flexes naval muscle in Asia ahead of Trump’s visit
Hong Kong (CNN): Two US Navy aircraft carrier strike groups have arrived in the Pacific in the past two days, putting three of the massive warships in the region as President Donald Trump prepares for a visit early next month.
The carriers USS Theodore Roosevelt and USS Nimitz — and their respective complements of cruisers, destroyers and submarines — have arrived in the US Navy’s 7th Fleet area of operations, which covers the eastern Indian and western Pacific oceans, the Navy said in separate news releases this week.
The Roosevelt and Nimitz join the USS Ronald Reagan, which is based in Japan and has been engaged in exercises with South Korean forces in the past week.
Those exercises have drawn harsh criticism from North Korea, which sees any US military drills as rehearsals for an attack on Pyongyang.
While the Navy statements do not give any specific missions for the Roosevelt and Nimitz, the presence of the additional carriers is certain to draw attention in the region.
“It does send a significant signal,” said Adam Mount, a defense analyst and senior fellow at the Federation of American Scientists.
“It is a major projection of force any time a carrier moves into a region,” Mount said. “US adversaries will read something into it.”
A message for China
The presence of the three carriers will send a message to China as well as North Korea, said CNN military analyst John Kirby, a former US Navy admiral.
China has been building fortifications on islands and reefs in the South China Sea and upgrading its fleet with new warships, including its second aircraft carrier, launched earlier this year.
China was also critical of US naval movements in the region after two US guided-missile destroyers collided with merchant ships earlier this year.