Home » Aviation » Pentagon: U.S. Won’t Send Carrier to Mainland China This Year

Pentagon: U.S. Won’t Send Carrier to Mainland China This Year

USS George Washington (CVN-73) and its strike group in 2013. The House voted to refuel the carrier rather than decommission the ship. US Navy Photo

USS George Washington (CVN-73) and its strike group in 2013. US Navy Photo

The Pentagon has no plans to send a nuclear powered aircraft carrier (CVN) to mainland China this year, a Defense Department spokesman told reporters on Friday.

“I can tell you that we have no plans for a carrier visit to mainland China this year,” Army Col. Steve Warren told reporters at the Pentagon on Friday.

The comments follow Thursday’s revelation of a letter from Senate Armed Services Committee (SASC) chairman Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) addressed to Pentagon leadership advising against a carrier visit to mainland China.

“I strongly believe that a visit by a U.S. nuclear-powered aircraft carrier at this time would not be in the best national security interests of our country,” McCain wrote in the Feb. 2 letter addressed to Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel and Deputy Secretary of Defense Bob Work.
“I am concerned that as we have increased our engagements in recent years, China’s actions in the East and South China Seas have only become more bold and coercive.”

The leadership in the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) has asked repeatedly for the U.S. to send a carrier to China in part as a training exchange with the PLAN’s own carrier Liaoning.

PLAN head Adm. Wu Shengli suggested a carrier visit in July during a visit of U.S. Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Jonathan Greenert and USNI News understands Chinese leadership has recently renewed calls for a CVN to visit China.

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Chief of Navy of the People's Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Adm. Wu Shengli greet each other in Qingdao, China on April 21, 2014. US Navy Photo

Chief of Naval Operations (CNO) Adm. Jonathan Greenert and Chief of Navy of the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Adm. Wu Shengli greet each other in Qingdao, China on April 21, 2014. US Navy Photo

For the Chinese, it would be boon for a U.S. carrier to visit from a public relations standpoint and a practical one.

The visual of the Chinese carrier has sparked concern in neighboring nations and McCain argued that a U.S. carrier visit could, “send the wrong signal to allies and partners throughout the region, including the Japan, the Philippines, Taiwan and Vietnam,” he wrote.

Any joint training exercise that could go along with a visit could also benefit the Chinese.

Liaoning is primarily serving as a technology demonstrator for the PLAN and is far from an asset the Chinese could deploy as an operational ship of war. U.S. help could speed up their carrier operations learning, which up until now, has been helped along by pilots and sailors from Brazil.

Absent the carrier issue, U.S. and Chinese military to military relations have improved over the last five years.

This week Chinese officials visited the Pentagon to discuss additional cooperation.

“The talks highlighted progress in the U.S.-China military-to-military relationship over the past year, also the two sides endorsed a program of bilateral defense contacts and exchanges that builds upon the successes of the 2014 program,” the Pentagon’s Warren said on Friday.
CNO Greenert has visited China several times and maintains a good relationship with the PLAN’s Wu.

Last year, the U.S. invited four PLAN ships to participate in the 2014 Rim of the Pacific exercise held off the coast of Hawaii – a first for China.

In addition to the invited four, China also sent an uninvited surveillance ship to monitor the exercise.

  • muzzleloader

    Mc Cain is right here. There is absolutely no upside for the U.S. in such a visit. The Chicoms would relish in seeing America’s key Naval asset up close. America would gain nothing.

    • Curtis Lee

      No even a port visit in Hong Kong?I love CVNs!

      • muzzleloader

        I have made port calls to Hong Kong on a CVN.But we never had Chinese brass crawling all over the ship either.

  • johnbull

    Good call. In light of the Chinese sabre rattling of recent years in the far East, what does this tell other countries – Japan, the Philippines, the Aussies, etc.? We don’t want to needlessly provoke the Chinese, but you don’t reward international bullying by scheduling a port of call visit by the most powerful and visible symbol of naval power and prestige.

    • zencowboy61

      Yes remember only the US can saber rattle…what a joke…Vietnam..Iraq…Afghanistan.

  • JD4Radar

    This absolutely is the right call. I don’t trust the CCP and their spies. China is running scared, because of the President’s visit to India and that they may work together to help India’s future Aircraft Carrier Design.

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  • AKO

    Socialism will certainly prevail against capitalism the world over?

    • old guy

      Then how come China is the fastest growing CAPITALIST country. The Central Government stays well away from commercial interests. You can see what happened when they stuck their nose in Hong Kong.

      • Curtis Conway

        They STEAL everything. That is why the Birdfarm in not going there. they are not called G-dless Communist for nothing.

        • old guy

          We help a lot. Back in the 60s, I was in the space (Titan3) business. We had a great Chinese scientist working at USC and doing very critical rocket work. He was a Green card holder. VERY valuable. The FBI decided he was a spy (later disproven and apologized for) and bugged him and his daughter (also an engineer) so badly, that he decided to go back to China. They showered him with attention and then started their space program, which got a great boost from his knowledge of ours. I can tell you that when I knew him he loved it here, was on his way to citizenship, and was very upset when he left. Hallelujah!

          • zencowboy61

            Americans spying on people who would think such a thing.

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  • zencowboy61

    Seems like another enemy being created by the US..its always a smart idea to start trouble with countries that have thousands of Nuclear weapons…remember Terror is everywhere..we are surrounded by enemies!………