Carrier USS Ronald Reagan Back in the South China Sea, Details of Talisman Sabre Exercise Emerge

July 4, 2023 12:46 PM
Sailors assigned to the flight deck crash and salvage team observe flight operations on the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), in the South China Sea on July 1, 2023. US Navy Photo

The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group is back in the South China Sea after wrapping a port visit to Vietnam on Friday. Meanwhile, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force and Japan Ground Self-Defense Force detailed their participation in the Australian-led multinational exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 held in Australia from July 22 to Aug. 4.

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and cruisers USS Antietam (CG-54) and USS Robert Smalls (CG-62) and arrived in Danang on June 25 for a five-day port. “Ship visits are a routine part of key cooperation among partners,” said Rear Adm. Pat Hannifin, Commander, Task Force (CTF) 70/Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 5 stated in a Navy release

“In Da Nang, Sailors engaged in both cultural exchanges and community projects and through these shared experiences, strengthened the bond between our people,” said Carrier Strike Group 5 commander Rear Adm. Pat Hannifin said in a Navy statement.
“U.S.-Vietnam defense cooperation is critical to upholding the rules-based maritime order. By working together we protect sovereignty, enhance domain awareness, improve humanitarian efforts, and uphold common values and interest in a free, open and secure Indo-Pacific region.”

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), approaches Da Nang, Vietnam, for a scheduled port visit June 25, 2023. US Navy Photo

Over the weekend, the Navy released photos of Reagan launching aircraft in the South China Sea. Both Antietam and Robert Smalls conducted a replenishment at sea with fleet oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204). Several ships from U.S. partner nations are also operating in the South China Sea.

The destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106), part of JMSDF’s Indo-Pacific Deployment 2023 (IPD23) mission, of recently conducted an exercise in the South China Sea with Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Anzac (FFH150) and a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft.

Anzac left Australia in April for a five month regional deployment and is scheduled to carry out the bilateral Australian-Philippine naval Exercise Lumbas, the Australians defense ministry said in a statement. Anzac was in Singapore in mid- May to participate in the Five Power Defence Arrangements (FPDA) Exercise Bersama Shield. Then the ship to South Korea and Japan to carry out Operation Argos – enforcing U.N. sanctions against North Korea. Anzac wrapped up the mission in early June and is now back in the South China Sea. French frigate FS Lorraine (D657) wrapped up a port visit to Manila, Philippines on Thursday and is in the South China Sea now, prior to its arrival in Manila on 23 June, Lorraine had been integrated into the Ronald Reagan CSG. It is unclear as to whether Lorraine will rejoin the CSG or continue back on its independent deployment.

Talisman Sabre

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Anzac (FFH150) and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) helicopter destroyer JS Izumo sail together in the South China Sea as part of the Trident 23 exercise. JMSDF Photo

On Monday, both the Japan’s maritime and ground forces issued releases on their participation in the multilateral exercise Talisman Sabre 2023 to be held in Australia from July 22 to Aug. 4. The JMSDF release said helicopter carrier Izumo and landing ship tank JS Shimokita (LST-4002) will carry out amphibious training with the JGSDF Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) and the JGSDF 1st Helicopter Brigade. Shimokita left on Monday, according to a JMSDF release. U.S. Forces will include the America Amphibious Ready Group (ARG) consisting of amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6) and landing platform docks USS New Orleans (LPD-18) and USS Green Bay (LPD-20) and the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit. Rear Adm. Motoyuki Kanezashi, commander of the JMSDF Mine Warfare Force will command the JMSDF force.

The objective of the exercise id, “to develop our operational capabilities, tactical skills, and interoperability regarding multilaterally integrated Maritime and Amphibious Operations, Anti-Air Operations and Joint Anti-Ship Operations including live-fire with Type-03 Surface-to-Air Missile (Chu-SAM) and the Type-12 Surface-to-Ship Missile (12-SSM), by utilizing the excellent training environment of Australia,” reads a statement from the JGSDF.

A total of 13 countries will be taking part in the Australian exercise including – Canada, Fiji, France, Germany, Indonesia, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Republic of Korea, Tonga, U.K. and the U.S.

For the amphibious operations, Joint Terminal Attack Control Training will be at the Shoalwater Bay training area, amphibious assault rehearsal at Midge Point, Queensland and the amphibious exercise at Stanage Bay, Queensland. The JGSDF release stated that the JGSDF ARDB and 1st Helicopter Brigade, JMSDF ships, America ARG and 31st MEU will carry out their amphibious training along with a platoon from the German Navy Sea Battalion.

The release stated that “ in amphibious operations, jointly with the United States and Germany, JGSDF conducts a series of amphibious operations consisting of maritime maneuver, amphibious assault, and combined arms warfare following landing.”

The Anti-Air operations will take place at the Shoalwater Bay training area and involves the 2nd Anti-Aircraft Artillery Group of the JGSDF Eastern Army with the 31st MEU. The release stated that the JGSDF will conduct live-fire training of the Type 03 SAM for the first time outside of Japan and the United States and will practice force-on-force combat with U.S. aircraft.

The joint anti-ship operation will take place in Jervis Bay, Northern Territory with the 5th SSM Regiment of the JGSDF Western Army, the artillery school unit of JGSDF Fuji School and 2nd Military Intelligence Unit of the JGSDF Northern Army with the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) 812 and 822X Squadrons. 812 Squadron operates MH-60R helicopters while 822X Squadron is the RAN’s squadron for operations and experimentation of Unmanned Aerial Vehicles with the squadron currently operating the Boeing Insitu ScanEagle and the rotary Schiebel S-100 Camcopter. The release stated that JGSDF will conducts live-fire training of the Type 12 SSM for the first time outside of Japan and the United States and in cooperation with the Royal Australian Navy, integrating with information gathering by the JGSDF Scan Eagle II, which will be it first flight overseas.

In a Tuesday release, the JMSDF said on Monday in the East China Sea, fleet oiler JS Hamana (AOE-424) conducted a replenishment at sea training and tactical maneuvers with Italian Navy OPV ITS Francesco Morosini (P431), which is currently in the region on an Indo-Pacific deployment.




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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