The U.S. Navy will deploy a third carrier strike group (CSG) spearheaded by the USS Nimitz, the lead ship of her class, to the Western Pacific as an apparent warning to North Korea, sources close to the U.S. military revealed last week.
According to a U.S. Pacific Command statement, the USS Nimitz and her escort will depart their homeports of Naval Station Kitsap-Bremerton and Naval Station Everett, both located in Washington state for a regularly scheduled deployment on June 1.
“Strike Group units have spent most of the past seven months underway preparing for deployment. Nimitz participated in a series of pre-deployment inspections and training evolutions, including Board of Inspection and Survey and a Composite Training Unit Exercise that certified them ready for deployment,” the statement reads.
U.S. Pacific Command, however, did not reveal the CSGs destination. U.S. Navy sources say that the USS Nimitz will be deployed to the Western Pacific for six months and participate in a number of training exercises. The supercarrier is purportedly also scheduled to replace the USS Carl Vinson, which deployed to the Pacific in January.
The USS Carl Vinson and her support ships were ordered to the waters off the Korean Peninsula in response to North Korean intermediate-range ballistic missile tests in April of this year. Prior to that, the Carl Vinson CSG participated in a number of training exercises and conducted regular patrols in the South China Sea.
The USS Nimitz will join a third carrier currently operating in Pacific waters, the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan, which departed Yokosuka naval base in Japan in the middle of May and is currently engaged in flight deck and carrier qualifications to certify their ability to safely launch and recover aircraft.
While a Pentagon official said that the “USS Carl Vinson and USS Ronald Reagan are in the Western Pacific, but (…) not in close proximity to each other,” sources report that the two carriers will meet at the beginning of June to conduct a joint naval exercise with the Republic of Korea Navy in the Sea of Japan.
It is unclear when and where the USS Nimitz will meet up with one of the other carriers. According to U.S. Navy sources, the USS Nimitz was originally scheduled to deploy to the Middle East, but recent tensions on the Korean Peninsula made the U.S. government decide to dispatch the ship to the Western Pacific.
Once the USS Nimitz arrives in the region, three of the U.S. Navy’s 11 supercarriers will be deployed in the Asia Pacific. The U.S. Navy rarely deploys three CSG simultaneously to the same region. The supercarrier will be escorted by four Arleigh-Burke class guided missile destroyers and a Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser.