Aircraft carriers USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) are in the Philippine Sea rehearsing what Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson called “high-end warfighting.”
The Navy released video of the two carrier strike groups sailing side by side, and fighters and airborne early warning aircraft flying in formation.
For the first time in nearly two years, two CSGs are conducting dual-carrier operations in the Asia-Pacific. With two aircraft carriers, two carrier air wings, three guided-missile cruisers, six guided-missile destroyers and more operating together, they have a rare opportunity to practice conducting major warfare operations.
The Navy’s deployment schedule has just one carrier on each coast preparing for deployment at any given time, making this kind of rehearsal at home unlikely. Even major U.S.-based exercises like Bold Alligator and Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) feature just one aircraft carrier. Abroad, carriers may pass each other as one begins its deployment and the other heads home – but even the Dwight D. Eisenhower and Harry S. Truman Carrier Strike Groups, despite operating in the Mediterranean for several weeks before Truman CSG heads home, are on separate missions in separate parts of the sea.
Richardson said earlier this week at the Center for a New American Security annual conference that the Navy needs updated blue-water tactics to keep up with evolving threats and capabilities such as cyber, space and unmanned systems. He has teams working on innovative new ideas, and “they are really being creative in terms of how they approach that challenge, coming up with new ways to operate and very very clever in terms of the way they stitch together (Navy assets).”
Having the Reagan and Stennis CSGs operate together today “is just another chance to take that up to the next level,” Richardson said of the effort to update blue-water concepts of operations.