Carrier USS Carl Vinson Sails with Philippine Navy in South China Sea

January 3, 2024 11:40 AM
Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) recovers aircraft during flight operations on Nov. 19, 2023. US Navy Photo

Aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) began drills in the South China Sea with the Philippine Navy on Wednesday the U.S. Navy announced. Meanwhile, the Chief of Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) said in his New Year address that the service will further increase its efforts with its allies and partners to navigate “through the raging waves of global security challenges.”

The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group – made up of Vinson (CVN-70) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, cruiser USS Princeton (CG-59), missile destroyers USS Kidd (DDG-100) and USS Sterett (DDG-104) – will conduct a two day sail with Philippine Navy offshore patrol vessels BRP Gregorio del Pilar (PS-15) (ex-USCGC Hamilton WHEC-715) and BRP Ramon Alcaraz (PS-16) (ex-USCGC Dallas WHEC-716), and landing platform dock BRP Davao del Sur (LD-602).

The drills are designed to “advance combined capabilities in the maritime domain,” said the release. The allied forces will sail together and participate in enhanced planning and advanced maritime communication operations.

“Our strike group welcomes the opportunity to conduct maritime activities,” said Rear Adm. Carlos Sardiello, commander of CSG-1, said in the release.
“Sailing and operating together demonstrates our commitment to improving our interoperability and information sharing with the Armed Forces of the Philippines, to enhance our ability to coordinate on maritime domain awareness and other shared security interests.”

The CSG, following its departure from Singapore on Dec. 21 after a port visit, has been operating in the South China Sea, according to a Dec. 27 Navy release. The Carl Vinson CSG departed San Diego on Oct. 12 for a scheduled deployment to the Western Pacific. Destroyers USS Hopper (DDG-70) and USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) are also part of the CSG but operating independently.

The last joint sail with Philippines in the South China Sea between the two countries occurred on Nov.23 by Littoral Combat Ship USS Gabrielle Giffords (LCS-10) and a P-8 Poseidon of VP-8 with Philippine Navy frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150) corvette BRP Conrado Yap (PS-39) and Gregorio Del Pilar and two Philippine Air Force (PAF) FA-50PH fighters and a PAF A-29B Super Tucano light attack aircraft following a joint patrol with the Philippines by Gabrielle Giffords. The Philippines have been conducting joint patrols with the U.S. and Australia in the South China Sea as part of an effort to deter China’s increasing aggression towards the Philippines in and their claims in the South China Sea. The Philippines has also reached out to other countries to conduct joint patrols but no country has so far committed to such, though India carried out a maritime partnership exercise in the South China Sea in December between corvette INS Kadmatt (P29) and Ramon Alcaraz following the corvette’s port visit to Manila.

On Monday, the Chief of the JMSDF, Adm. Ryo Sakai, in his New Year message, reiterated the Japanese government’s statement in its 2023 annual defense white paper that Russia, China and North Korea are causing a severe security environment around Japan.

“As actions by Russia, China and North Korea escalate and their cooperation increases, the security environment surrounding Japan has become much more challenging. Situations in Ukraine and Israel also underscore the fact that the world is yet far from the end of conflict and violence,” Sakai said.

The JMSDF Chief stated that in light of such, the JMSDF has been taking the initiative in shaping a desirable security environment by dispatching its units to the Indo-Pacific, which is done on top of its ongoing efforts such as conducting surveillance and maintaining readiness for ballistic missile defense, “The JMSDF will steadily continue to sail towards advancement while committing to our everyday duties” said Sakai.

The JMSDF conducts an annual deployment to the Indo-Pacific known as Indo-Pacific Deployment (IPD) which is spearheaded by either an Izumo class or Hyuga class helicopter destroyer carrier along with having its ships sailing to or returning from exercises or anti-piracy missions conducting numerous exercises and engagements in the Indo-Pacific while transiting the region.

The JMSDF Chief also stated the service’s capabilities, which include logistics and human resources, will be reinforced by procuring necessary equipment and ammunition, improving operational availability, developing and implementing emerging technology, and education and development of its people.

He also stated that the JMSDF will make every effort to end any form of harassment. Last year, Japan’s military waws shook by a high profile sexual assault case where three soldiers were found guilty by a civil court of assaulting a female soldier. The Japan Ministry of Defense said five soldiers connected to the incident had been dismissed from service. The MoD announced in December that an investigation into harassment in Japan’s military resulted in a total of 247 leadership and sexual harassment cases being recognized as valid from the 1,325 reports filed and a total of 245 personnel from all three services. Thirty-six from the JMSDF had been punished for 207 of the 247 cases while punishment was being considered for the remaining 40 cases. The highest-ranking officer punished was a Japan Ground Self-Defense Force major general being demoted to lieutenant colonel for leadership harassment, the Japanese equivalent of toxic leadership.

Sakai also stated that the JMSDF will continue to deepen the relationship with its ally and partners and seek stronger cooperation with relevant ministries and agencies, “to realize a Free and Open Indo-Pacific, we will navigate together as one through the raging waves of global security challenges, and we humbly ask for your continuing support”, conclude Sakai.

The JMSDF is currently engaged as part of the overall Japanese government and military response to Monday afternoon’s earthquake in the Noto Peninsula region. Japan has placed 10,000 military personnel to assist in the relief efforts. The JMSDF is dispatching eight ships currently to deliver relief supplies and support to the region according to a social media post by the service. However, it has not released the names of the ships involved. Japan’s Joint Staff Office in a Wednesday release stated that LST JS Osumi (LST-4001) departed from JMSDF Kure Naval Base on Tuesday, carrying heavy equipment and relief supplies. Destroyer JS Setogiri (DD-156), destroyer escort JS Sendai (DE-232) and multipurpose support ship JS Hiuchi (AMS-4301) had earlier left on Monday from JMSDF Maizuru Naval Base with relief supplies while on Tuesday destroyer JS Asagiri (DD-151) left the base to transport a 40-man detachment of the fire department-wide area support team to the affected area.



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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