The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group and the John C. Stennis Carrier Strike Group are currently operating together in the Philippine Sea, conducting air, surface and anti-submarine warfare operations.
The Navy is placing a greater significance on combined carrier strike group maneuvers as a way of demonstrating how units assigned to each group can operate as a larger, coordinated strike force. The Reagan CSG, led by USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), is permanently forward-deployed to the region.
“Bringing two carrier strike groups together provides unparalleled naval combat power, tremendous operational flexibility and reach across the region,” Vice Adm. Phil Sawyer, the commander of U.S. 7th Fleet, said in a statement. “It shows our forces at their best, operating confidently at sea, and demonstrates that the U.S. Navy will fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
A year ago, Ronald Reagan was joined by aircraft carriers USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) for a tri-carrier strike force exercise. In 2016, Ronald Reagan was joined by Stennis in the Philippine Sea, according to the Navy.
However, during the past year, the Navy has deployed the fewest number of carrier strike groups since the year immediately after the Soviet Union collapsed, according to a USNI News analysis of a half century’s worth of carrier air wing deployments. Catching up on maintenance and bringing a new level of unpredictability to carrier operations were among the reasons cited by Navy officials for the decrease in deployments.
For the Stennis CSG, the current dual-carrier operation is its second such exercise since leaving Naval Base Kitsap a month ago. The Stennis CSG conducted a similar dual-carrier operation with the Carl Vinson CSG in October.
USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) is slated to shift its homeport to the East Coast following this deployment. Stennis is scheduled to start a four-year mid-life refueling and complex overhaul (RCOH) at Huntington Ingalls Industries Newport News Shipbuilding in Virginia.
Stennis’ move to Virginia is part of a three-carrier shift, sending USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) to Washington for a maintenance period and USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) to San Diego.