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Two carrier strike groups operating together in 7th Fleet waters

The aircraft carriers Nimitz and Ronald Reagan began dual carrier operations Sunday in the Philippine Sea, capping off a month that saw three carrier strike groups operating in the waters of the Japan-based U.S. 7th Fleet.

The carriers and their assorted warships are conducting integrated exercises and operations there, according to a Navy statement.

Earlier this month, the Nimitz paired up for similar ops with the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt.

Photos published by U.S. Pacific Fleet indicate that the Reagan was also underway in the Philippine Sea around that time, placing three flattops just outside the ever-contentious waters of the South China Sea.

The Navy hasn’t had three carrier strike groups concurrently underway in 7th Fleet since 2017, when the Nimitz, TR and Reagan all steamed together near Korea.

The Nimitz and its strike group left San Diego earlier this month, while the TR resumed its deployment this month after a COVID-19 outbreak forced the ship to divert to Guam for much of the spring.

The Reagan, homeported in Yokosuka, Japan, also got underway earlier in June.

Dual-carrier operations have happened over the years but are not regularly scheduled events, according to the Navy.

The Reagan and the aircraft carrier John C. Stennis conducted similar operations in the Philippine Sea in 2018.

Before that, the George Washington and the Carl Vinson operated together in the South and East China seas in 2014.

The Washington and Nimitz got underway together in 2009, while the Vinson and the now-retired Constellation operated together in the South China Sea in 2001.

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