Carrier USS Carl Vinson, Essex Amphibious Ready Group Drill in the South China Sea

January 14, 2022 12:44 PM
From left, USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS O’Kane (DDG-77), Wasp-class landing helicopter dock USS Essex (LHD-2), Harpers Ferry-class dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52), and Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship USNS Alan Shephard (T-AKE-3) transit the South China Sea on Jan. 13, 2022. US Navy Photo

KULALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group and Essex Amphibious Ready Group with the embarked 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit are now drilling in the South China Sea.

Images released by the U.S Navy show carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70), landing helicopter dock USS Essex (LHD-2), amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD-52), cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), destroyer USS Michael Murphy ( DDG-112), dry cargo ship USNS Alan Shephard (T-AKE-3) and replenishment ship USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) sailing in the South China Sea on Thursday.

The Essex ARG was initially comprised of Essex, Pearl Harbor and amphibious transport dock USS Portland (LPD-27), but it appears that Portland has since detached from the group following the ARG’s departure from the Middle East in early January. Destroyers USS O’Kane (DDG-77) and Michael Murphy then joined the ARG in the Indian Ocean. Both destroyers deployed as part of the Carl Vinson CSG in August, but are operating with the Essex ARG.

Essex carried out an exercise with Indian Navy corvette INS Kora (P61) and an Indian Navy P-8I earlier this week in the Eastern Indian Ocean before transiting through the Malacca Straits on Jan. 11 towards the South China Sea.

Meanwhile, destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) – which also deployed as part of the Carl Vinson CSG – is operating in the East China Sea as part of Commander, Task Force (CTF) 71/DESRON 15 and conducted a replenishment at sea there on Wednesday with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force replenishment ship JS Oumi (AOE-426).

In other developments, a Russian Navy Pacific Fleet task group that includes cruiser RFS Varyag (011), destroyer Admiral Tributs (564) and replenishment ship Boris Butoma arrived in Kochi, India on Thursday for a port visit. The task force left Vladivostok on Dec. 29 for a long range deployment to a number of unspecified nations, though a Russian Navy news release said the ships would visit the Seychelles to coincide with the 105th anniversary of Russian protected cruiser Varyag’s visit in August 1916. The Russian task group is expected to leave Friday for Chabahar, Iran.

Also heading out of the Indian Ocean to the Middle East are JMSDF mine countermeasure vessel JS Uraga (MST-463) and minesweeper JS Hirado (MSO-305). Both ships carried out an exercise with Indian Navy frigate INS Shivalik (F47) and corvette INS Kadmatt (P29) on Thursday in the Bay of Bengal. Uraga and Hirado left Japan on Dec. 12 and are scheduled to participate in the International Maritime Exercise (IMX) 22 exercise held by U.S. 5th Fleet from Jan. 30 through Feb. 17. Both ships are scheduled return to Japan at the end of March.

German Navy frigate FGS Bayern (F217) is in the Indian Ocean, heading toward Sri Lanka after wrapping up the Asia Pacific portion of its deployment. Bayern carried out a passage exercise with Republic of Singapore Navy frigate RSS Formidable (68) off Singapore on Tuesday, following its departure from Vietnam on Jan. 9. Bayern then carried out a passage exercise in the Malacca Strait on Wednesday with six ships from the Royal Malaysian Navy – multipurpose support ship KD Sri Inderasakti (1503), frigate KD Jebat (FFGH29), corvettes KD Lekir (FSG26) and KD Laksamana Hang Nadim (F134), Littoral Mission Ship KD Sundang (112) and fast attack craft KD Gempita (3514). A large number of RMN ships participated in the PASSEX with Bayern because the RMN also in the middle of carrying out the RMN Western Fleet’s Pangkor War readiness and combat exercise in the Malacca Strait.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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