WASHINGTON (Agencies) – As tensions rise in the Indo-Pacific region, the United States is expected to deploy nearly half of its aircraft carrier fleet to the western Pacific this year. The move is seen as a countermeasure against the increasing assertiveness of China and North Korea.

Currently, three US aircraft carriers are stationed in the western Pacific Ocean, with two more set to join them. The USS Abraham Lincoln, part of the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet, was reported by the US Naval Institute’s Fleet and Marine Tracker to have left its home port in San Diego, California, on February 5, heading towards the western Pacific.

The USS Ronald Reagan is due to relocate from Yokosuka, Japan, to the Puget Sound naval shipyard in Washington for maintenance. In its place, the USS George Washington is expected to be deployed to the region. Once these carriers arrive, it will be the first time that five of the eleven American carriers have operated in the region simultaneously.

In addition to the USS Ronald Reagan, the USS Carl Vinson and USS Theodore Roosevelt were deployed to Guam and Hawaii on February 12. They are expected to remain in the western Pacific until April and July, respectively.

The anticipated deployment of five carriers in the region is seen as a demonstration of US power. Earlier this year, when three carriers were deployed, experts noted that the US was aiming to bolster its strategic position in the western Pacific.

In January, the USS Carl Vinson conducted naval exercises in the East China Sea with South Korea and Japan in response to North Korea’s testing of an intermediate-range ballistic missile. The trilateral exercises included air combat simulations, advanced maritime communication operations training, combined sailing, staff exchanges, and integration.

Later that month, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, the Japanese helicopter destroyer JS Ise, and the USS Carl Vinson participated in a training exercise in the Philippine Sea. Nine additional vessels from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force joined the drills in a significant show of naval strength.

Rear Admiral Christopher Alexander, commander of USS Theodore Roosevelt’s Carrier Strike Group Nine, stated at the time, “We are more capable when we work together to address shared maritime security challenges.”

In 2020, the US Navy deployed three aircraft carriers, the USS Theodore Roosevelt, USS Nimitz, and USS Ronald Reagan, to the Pacific Ocean. This move elicited a strong response from China’s state media, which vowed that Beijing would steadfastly protect its regional interests.

However, the upcoming deployment of five aircraft carriers to the region will surpass that previous record.

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