SOUTH CHINA SEA —
The Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Montgomery (LCS 8) and the Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE 14) conducted presence operations in international waters and airspace near Panamanian flagged drill ship, West Capella, May 7.
Through continued operational presence in the South China Sea, the U.S. Navy supports transparency, the rule of law, freedom of navigation and overflight, the principles that underpin security and prosperity for the Indo-Pacific, so that all nations in the region may benefit.
According to Rear Adm. Fred Kacher, commander of Expeditionary Strike Group 7, Montgomery and Cesar Chavez’s presence in the South China Sea demonstrate the U.S. Navy’s continued commitment to the region.
“USS Montgomery's operations with the USNS Cesar Chavez highlight the flexibility and agility of our naval forces in this vital region,” said Kacher. “Our forces fly, sail and operate in the international waters of the South China Sea at our discretion and in accordance with maritime norms and international law, demonstrating the wide range of naval capability we have available in the Indo-Pacific.”
Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Pacific Fleet stressed that U.S. forces would stand with regional friends and partners to resist coercion and oppose unlawful claims to international waters and resources.
“We are committed to a rules-based order in the South China Sea and we will continue to champion freedom of the seas and the rule of law,” said Aquilino. “The Chinese Communist Party must end its pattern of bullying Southeast Asians out of offshore oil, gas, and fisheries. Millions of people in the region depend on those resources for their livelihood.”
A part of Military Sealift Command (MSC), Cesar Chavez is underway in the Indo-Pacific region, delivering essential supplies, fuel, cargo and equipment to warfighters throughout the region. MSC operates approximately 125 non-combatant, civilian-crewed ships that replenish U.S. Navy ships, conduct specialized missions, strategically preposition combat cargo at sea around the world and move military cargo and supplies used by deployed U.S. forces and coalition partners.
Attached to Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, Montgomery is on her rotational deployment to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations in support of security and stability in the Indo-Pacific.
U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy’s largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict.