U.S. Navy and U.S. Marines Corps units have been conducting operations in early May in the Asia-Pacific, the U.S. 7th Fleet said in a statement. The activities have occurred throughout the 7th Fleet’s area of operations, which extends from the middle of the Pacific Ocean to the western coast of India, encompassing most of the Indian Ocean. The ongoing operations are focused on increasing interoperability between the two services.
“These operations at sea focus on interoperability to further develop warfighting concepts, improve distributed maritime operations, and enable real-world proficiency and readiness in response to any contingency,” the 7th Fleet said in a statement.
“Our forward-deployed naval forces at sea are spread from the Sea of Japan to operations in the South China Sea and Indian Ocean,” Capt. Steven De Moss, commodore of the U.S. Navy’s Destroyer Squadron 15, said in a statement.
“I am excited to bring some of those forces together to conduct a large scale integration of this nature. It sharpens our warfighting readiness, while continuing to support regional security, stability, and international norms,” he added.
According to the 7th Fleet, the May 2020 operations have included the 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force, amphibious transport dock ship USS New Orleans (LPD 18); guided-missile destroyers USS Barry (DDG 52), USS Mustin (DDG 89), USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115), and USS Russell (DDG 59); combat logistics force ships USNS Alan Sheppard (T-AKE 3), USNS Pecos (T-AO 197) in addition to several maritime patrol and reconnaissance aircraft.
The U.S. Department of Defense has emphasized integrated operations for the U.S. Navy and Marine Corps to better support a regional presence and developing a layered defense in support of U.S. allies and partners in the region.
The U.S. 7th Fleet, headquartered at United States Fleet Activities Yokosuka in Japan, is the largest U.S. forward-deployed fleet, accounting for between 60 and 70 U.S. Navy surface and subsurface vessels. The 7th Fleet has been deployed in support of a range of missions in the region, including natural disaster relief, freedom of navigation operations, and presence operations.
The 7th Fleet is organized into 10 specialized task forces, each with a specific role. The 7th Fleet includes forward-deployed destroyers, nuclear attack submarines, and one aircraft carrier, USS Theodore Roosevelt.
The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has interfered with the 7th Fleet’s regular operations, with a major breakout having taken place on board the Theodore Roosevelt, sending the ship out of commission temporarily. Last week, five sailors on board USS Theodore Roosevelt were rediagnosed with COVID-19 and taken off the ship.