South China Sea

US aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan returns to South China Sea

US aircraft carrier Ronald Reagan returns to South China Sea
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is forward-deployed to the US 7th Fleet area of operations

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, a flotilla under the US Navy, entered the South China Sea Friday, August 14, and conducted maritime air defense operations in support of what it called “freedom of navigation” in the disputed waterway.

The statement from the strike group said there were 4 US Navy ships which patrolled the area.

The flotilla is the US Navy’s only forward-deployed carrier strike group and is assigned to the US 7th Fleet area of operations.

“The recent integrated training between our Carrier Strike Group and Air Force B-1s is the latest example of how we are continually working to stay synched with all of our joint partners and ready to respond to any contingencies throughout the region,” said US Navy Commander Joshua Fagan, Task Force 70 Air Operations Officer aboard the USS Ronald Reagan.

He added: “Integration with our joint partners is essential to ensuring joint force responsiveness and lethality, and maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

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The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is comprised of the aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam, the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Mustin and USS Rafael Peralta, and squadrons assigned to Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5 embarked aboard Ronald Reagan.

The South China Sea has been a flashpoint in the region with conflicting and overlapping claims from the surrounding countries.

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Explainer: Why is the South China Sea such a hotly contested region?

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Beijing claims almost all of the South China Sea based on a so-called 9-dash line, a vague delineation from maps dating back to the 1940s.

The Philippines claims territorial sovereignty over the Kalayaan Island Group and Bajo de Masinloc, as well as sovereign rights over the waters and continental shelf in the West Philippine Sea.

That Philippine claim was validated in 2016 at the Permanent Court of Arbitration. – Rappler.com

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