US supercarrier withdraws as China’s carrier and nuclear submarine move in

As warring China conducts a massive live-fire exercise near Taiwan, reports have emerged from Beijing that the US Navy’s aircraft carrier, USS Ronald Reagan, has withdrawn from contested waters. The USS Ronald Reagan, currently in the western Pacific, is said to have escorted House Speaker Nancy Pelosis’ flight to Taiwan.

The carrier’s withdrawal comes as the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) set up a shooting range east of Taiwan, the South China Morning Post reported. The report, citing state-controlled Chinese surveillance cameras, said the USS Ronald Reagan retreated a few hundred kilometers after the PLA first set up its firing range in the east of the island.

Although the warships and their escorts reportedly ensured Pelosi’s safety, the US Navy never made a formal announcement to that effect. The 7th Fleet on Thursday claimed the USS Ronald Reagan was conducting planned operations in the western Pacific’s Philippine Sea, a 5.7 million square kilometer stretch of ocean encompassing waters southeast of Taiwan.

“The USS Ronald Reagan and her task force are navigating the Philippine Sea conducting normal, scheduled operations as part of their routine patrol in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific,” a US Navy Seventh Fleet spokesman said.

However, Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin has ordered the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group to remain in the general area to monitor the situation, National Security Council spokesman John Kirby said at a White House briefing Thursday afternoon.

“We will operate standard flights by air and sea across the Taiwan Strait over the next few weeks, again in line with our long-standing approach to defending the freedom of the seas. and international law,” Kirby was quoted as saying by USNI News.

Interestingly, China has sent its aircraft carrier towards the Taiwan Strait to take part in the exercises. The carrier group has at least one nuclear-powered submarine and will participate in its first carrier deterrent exercise. China has two operational carriers – the Liaoning and the Shangdong – but it is unclear which is participating in the exercise.

Zhang Junshe, a senior research fellow at the PLA’s Naval Research Academy, told the Global Times that the PLA’s drills from Thursday to Sunday around the island of Taiwan will include the PLA’s first carrier group deterrent exercise, which will establish a maritime multidimensional battle System. “Typically, a nuclear submarine accompanies an aircraft carrier group on its mission,” Zhang added.

The US Navy aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan is seen during the 2018 visit to Hong Kong

Photo: Reuters/Yuyang Wang US supercarrier withdraws as China’s carrier and nuclear submarine move in

Fry Electronics Team

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