Aboard USS Carl Vinson, Philippines: A Navy officer aboard a mammoth US aircraft carrier brimming with F18 fighter jets said American forces will continue to patrol the South China Sea wherever “international law allows us” when asked if China’s newly built islands+ could restrain them in the disputed waters.
Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins told The Associated Press on Saturday aboard the USS Carl Vinson that the US Navy has carried out routine patrols in the strategic waters for 70 years to promote regional security and guarantee the unimpeded flow of trade that’s crucial for Asian and US economies.
US Navy personnel watch as an F18 fighter jet lands on the deck of aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson during a FONOPS (Freedom of Navigation Operation Patrol) in South China Sea. – Reuters
Hawkins said, “International law allows us to operate here, allows us to fly here, allows us to train here, allows us to sail here, and that’s what we’re doing and we’re going to continue to do that.”
The US Navy invited journalists on board the 35-year-old carrier, which was packed with 72 aircraft, including F18 Hornets, assault helicopters and surveillance aircraft.
President Rodrigo Duterte has tried to back down from what he said was a Philippine foreign policy that was steeply oriented toward the US, but has allowed considerable engagements with his country’s treaty ally while reviving once-frosty ties with China.