11/15/2017: For the first time in a decade, three U.S. Navy Carrier Strike Groups (CSGs) coordinated operations in the Indo-Asia-Pacific.
The USS Nimitz (CVN 68), USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76) Strike Groups staged a complex series of air and sea exercises with Japan.
According to the US 7th Fleet:
YOKOSUKA, Japan — The USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), USS Nimitz (CVN 68) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71) strike groups will commence a three-carrier strike force exercise in the Western Pacific, Nov. 11-14. Units assigned to the strike force will conduct coordinated operations in international waters in order to demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s unique capability to operate multiple carrier strike groups as a coordinated strike force effort. “It is a rare opportunity to train with two aircraft carriers together, and even rarer to be able to train with three,” said U.S. Pacific Fleet Commander, Adm. Scott Swift.
“Multiple carrier strike force operations are very complex, and this exercise in the Western Pacific is a strong testament to the U.S. Pacific Fleet’s unique ability and ironclad commitment to the continued security and stability of the region.” While at sea, the strike force plans to conduct air defense drills, sea surveillance, replenishments at sea, defensive air combat training, close-in coordinated maneuvers and other training.
This is the first time that three carrier strike groups have operated together in the Western Pacific since exercises Valiant Shield 2006 and 2007 off the coast of Guam.
Both exercises focused on the ability to rapidly bring together forces from three strike groups in response to any regional situation. Ronald Reagan took part in VS 2006 and Nimitz took part in VS 2007.
More recently, U.S. Navy aircraft carriers have conducted dual carrier strike group operations in the Western Pacific including in the South China Sea, East China Sea and Philippine Sea.
These opportunities typically occur when strike groups deployed to the 7th Fleet area of operations from the West Coast of the United States are joined with the forward deployed carrier strike group from Japan.
And an article in Defense News added this with regard to Japanese participation in the exercise:
Japan has announced it will participate in the U.S. Navy’s three-carrier strike force exercise in the Western Pacific, sending its own ships and aircraft to join the exercise.
In a news release, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force of JMSDF said that three of its ships and aircraft from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force or JASDF will join in the exercises to be held off the East China Sea and Sea of Japan.
The three JMSDF ships participating in the exercise are the helicopter destroyer JS Ise (DDH 182) and destroyers JS Inazuma (DD 105) and JS Makinami (DD 112). In addition two Mitsubishi F-15J Eagle interceptors from the JASDF’s 6th Air Wing from Komatsu Airbase will also be involved.
The news release also says that the JMSDF is keen to use every opportunity to strengthen the alliance with the U.S. Navy, noting that joining such exercises like these contribute to regional security.