Updated 6:02 PM EDT, Wed, Apr 01, 2020

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USS Carl Vinson Sails Close to Hainan on FONOPS Mission, Reveals US Navy


(Photo : US Navy) Carrier Strike Group One and the USS Carl Vinson.

The U.S. Navy nuclear powered aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) will keep patrolling the South China Sea until the end of July while its fighter jets fly closer to islands illegally occupied by China in the disputed waters.

On March 3, the carrier sailed some 400 nautical miles east of China's Hainan Island and northeast of the Paracel Islands seized by China from Vietnam. Some 30 F/A-18 Hornet fighter jets, helicopters and other aircraft took off from the Vinson that day to enforce the navy's freedom of navigation operation patrols (FONOPS) in the South China Sea.

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Rear Admiral James Kilby, Commander, Carrier Strike Group One (CSG-1), said the Vinson will continue to patrol the South China Sea to ensure freedom of navigation. He said the presence of the aircraft carrier shows America's "commitment" and not its power.

"We have operated here in the past. We're going to operate here in the future. We're going to continue to reassure our allies," he said.

Admiral Kilby pointed out that CSG-1 is "going to continue to demonstrate that international waters are waters where everyone can sail, where everyone can conduct commerce and merchant traffic and that's the message we want to leave with people."

The USS Carl Vinson is the flagship of CSG-1. Units assigned to CSG-1 are the USS Carl Vinson; Carrier Air Wing Seventeen; the Ticonderoga-class cruisers USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) and USS Lake Champlain (CG-57) and the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron 1.

The offensive power off Carrier Air Wing Seventeen rests on its four squadrons of McDonnell Douglas F/A-18 strike fighters totaling over 40 jets.

The U.S. Navy deployed CSG-1 to the disputed waters of the South China Sea on Feb. 18, a month later than originally expected. The Vinson belongs to the United States Third Fleet with its garrison at Naval Base Point Loma in California.

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