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Two ranking US military officials have given the assurance that the anticipated deployment of aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan to Japan in a few months is not intended to display America’s military might amid China’s seeming aggressiveness in the region.
The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), which has been described as one of the most lethal "supercarriers,” will be replacing USS George Washington (CVN 73) as the US Navy’s forward deployed aircraft carrier in the Seventh Fleet.
The Seventh Fleet’s area of responsibility includes the Western Pacific Region which covers the West Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.
"I wouldn’t portray that sending USS Ronald Reagan there that suddenly the United States is sending something more lethal to replace something that’s less lethal. It’s seamless, USS George Washington is a lethal carrier,” Rear Admiral Patrick A. Piercey, Commander of Carrier Strike Group 9, told visiting journalists from Asia on board the USS Ronald Reagan positioned off the coast of Mexico.
The USS Ronald Reagan is one of the ten Nimitz-class nuclear-powered aircraft carrier of the United States.
It carries at least 65 aircrafts and around 5,000 highly trained Navy and Air Force personnel.
“We want everybody to understand it’s lethal. Ultimately, this is an aircraft carrier. It represents the command power of the United States. We’re lethal, we're ready, we're credible,” Piercey said.
He added, however, that the United States is not out to create tension in the West Philippine Sea where nations such as Japan, Vietnam and the
Philippines have voiced protest over China’s assertion of its claims.
“It is not there to go and find ourselves into a fight…We’re ready to deter the conflict. Let's not even go to the conflict. Let’s figure out through international law and to well-established norms and practices how we can peacefully resolve the dispute,” Piercey added.
Recently the Chinese navy issued warnings to the crew of America’s P8-A Poseidon as the aircraft flew over the chain of artificial islands being built by China in the West Philippine Sea.
“There’s a huge commitment on the part of the US that if we send a carrier in the area and we keep the carrier in the area, that really it's a demonstration of our commitment to the region,” Piercey said.
Captain Christ Bolt, commanding officer of the USS Ronald Reagan, also stressed that the deployment of the supercarrier is “just a continuation of US policies."
Journalists from seven Asian nations, including the Philippines’ GMA News, were flown by C-2A Greyhound to the USS Ronald Reagan.
The journalists had a rare glimpse of a training exercise that includes the near simultaneous launch of aircrafts using catapults that enable them to take off in a matter of three seconds.
They were also given access to the runway to observe the landing of the aircrafts that make use of tailhooks or arresting hooks for rapid deceleration. —KG, GMA News