- STARS AND STRIPES - Feb 10, 2021 -
CAITLIN DOORNBOS | STARS AND STRIPES -
The commanders of two U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups in a conference call Wednesday dismissed Chinese critiques of their drills this week in the South China Sea.
The strike groups operated side-by-side Tuesday, honing their tactical proficiency and ability to work together, Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander of the USS Theodore Roosevelt strike group, told reporters during the call.
Verissimo said the two-carrier rendezvous occurred more from convenience than any intent to provoke the Chinese, who lay claim to most of the area and object to U.S. naval presence there.
“The fact that we came together in the South China Sea was based on our navigation plan and making the most efficient route to and from our areas,” Verissimo said.
The Theodore Roosevelt patrolled the area while the Nimitz last week began its journey home to Bremerton, Wash., after an extended deployment in the Middle East. The Nimitz has been deployed for nearly 250 days.
Nimitz strike group commander Rear Adm. James Kirk said the dual-carrier operation was “not in response to any nation or event,” but meant to “improve our readiness levels in the region.”
China’s state-run Global Times newspaper on Wednesday claimed the exercise had “more symbolic and political meanings rather than military significance” given “the power of China’s anti-ship ballistic missiles.”