“With tensions high between the United States and North Korea, it could appear that the flexing of aircraft carrier might is aimed at North Korea…”
Seven out of the 11 nuclear-powered aircraft carriers in the United States Navy are at sea simultaneously for the first time in several years. According to the Navy Institute News, three of the carriers are on operational deployments and the other four are on training missions or workups for upcoming deployments.
The last time seven aircraft carriers were at sea at the same time was in 2004 during the Summer Pulse 04 exercise to demonstrate the surge capacity of the US Navy’s carrier force.
Three of the carriers participated in a three-strike group exercise this past weekend.
The timing of these carrier moves is even more noticeable since President Donald Trump is in the middle of a 12-day trip to Asia. With tensions high between the United States and North Korea, it could appear that the flexing of aircraft carrier might is aimed at North Korea, but US Navy officials have stated that the deployments are nothing more than “a routine demonstration of our commitment to the region.”
“These three carriers are not there specifically targeting North Korea,” Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said last week.
Here’s what the seven aircraft carriers are doing.
USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78)
Commissioned in 2017.
The US Navy’s newest and most sophisticated carrier is at sea undergoing sea trials in the Atlantic Ocean before it joins the fleet in 2018. Her first deployment is expected to be in 2020.
USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76)
Commissioned in 2003.
The USS Ronald Reagan is in the Sea of Japan where it recently completed a drill with Japanese and Indian warships.
USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74)
Commissioned in 1995.
The USS John C. Stennis is currently sailing in the Eastern Pacific Ocean.
USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72)
Commissioned in 1989.
The USS Abraham Lincoln recently returned to the fleet after a refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) and is undergoing qualifications in the Atlantic Ocean.
USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71)
Commissioned in 1986.
The USS Theodore Roosevelt is returning from a recent visit to the US territory of Guam.
USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70)
Commissioned in 1982.
The USS Carl Vinson is currently at sea in the Eastern Pacific Ocean for testing of the new F-35C Lightning II fighter.
USS Nimitz (CVN-68)
Commissioned in 1975.
The USS Nimitz, the lead ship in the Nimitz class, recently visited Sri Lanka after a deployment to the Persian Gulf to conduct air strikes against ISIS targets in Iraq and Syria. The Nimitz is currently sailing towards its homeport at Naval Station Kitsap-Bremerton, Washington.
At least four of the carriers in the 7th Fleet are in the Pacific Ocean and three will converge for the first simultaneous three-strike group training operation in a decade. The exercise will take place in the Sea of Japan and is intended to send a message to North Korea of America’s security commitments in the region, according to US officials.
The exercise began Saturday and will continue through Tuesday. The carrier groups involved are the USS Ronald Reagan, USS Theodore Roosevelt, and the USS Nimitz.