The Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group (VINCSG) and Essex Amphibious Ready Group (ESX ARG) completed joint expeditionary strike force training operations in the South China Sea on Sunday, in what the US Navy said is part of “strengthening naval readiness and interoperability in the Indo-Pacific region.”
The training operations included integrated maritime strike missions, maritime interdiction operations, anti-submarine warfare, replenishment-at-sea, and formation maneuvering/navigation operations.
The ESX ARG brings a host of Marine Corps air support to the operations including the “White Knights” of Marine Medium Tilt Rotor Squadron 165 (Reinforced) and the “Black Sheep” of Marine Attack Squadron (VMA) 214. The “White Knights” operate the MV-22B Osprey, UH-1Y Venom, AH-1Z Viper, and the CH-53E Super Stallions while the “Black Sheep” operate the AV-8B Harrier.
“Our ability to quickly and effectively integrate with an amphibious ready group, such as ESX ARG, demonstrates a diverse level of naval lethality that is unlike any other naval force,” said Rear Adm. Dan Martin, commander, Carrier Strike Group 1, according to the press release.
“The long-range strike capability of the Vinson Strike Group combined with the Essex ARG’s potential to deliver a payload of Marines to any maritime region greatly contributes to the U.S. strategic ability to continue defending a free and open Indo-Pacific.”
Advanced Air Wing
The ESX ARG is the first amphibious group to operate alongside the “advanced Air Wing of the Future” (CVW 2). CVW-2 is currently embarked aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70).
The advanced Air Wing of the Future includes the capabilities of the F-35C Lightning II, operated by the “Argonauts” of Strike Fighter Squadron 147 and the CMV-22B Osprey, operated by the “Titans” of Fleet Logistics Multi-Mission Squadron 30. Vinson, the flagship of VINCSG, deployed in August 2021.
Defending Stability in Indo-Pacific
“Our opportunity to conduct integrated operations with Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group this past week showcases the U.S. Navy’s commitment to defending regional stability in the Indo-Pacific not only through our combined expertise and experience but through the differing capabilities of U.S. Navy big deck platforms,” said US Navy Capt. Karrey Sanders, commodore of Amphibious Squadron (PHIBRON) 1.
The Essex Amphibious Ready group consists of PHIBRON 1 and the 11th Marine Expeditionary Unit. PHIBRON 1 ships operating alongside VINCSG in the South China Sea includes landing helicopter dock USS Essex (LHD 2) and amphibious dock landing ship USS Pearl Harbor (LSD 52).
Participating VINCSG units included the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), and three Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 1: USS Michael Murphy (DDG 112), USS O’Kane (DDG 77), and USS Chafee (DDG 90). Additionally, nine squadrons of CVW-2 deployed aboard Vinson last August.
The VINCSG and ESX ARG are deployed to the US 7th Fleet area of operations in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific region. Prior to rendezvousing with VINCSG, ESX ARG recently operated in the Gulf of Aden.