In order to counter the rising uncertainty in Asia, a combined United States Naval force Pacific Fleet, the “7th Fleet and the 3rd Fleet” will be used, specifically, to the growing tension in the West Philippine sea (South China sea) this is according to a senior naval officer, Admiral Scott Swift in an interview by the Nikkei Asian Review on Tuesday.
“This is real. The commitment of the 3rd Fleet operating forward is real,” said Adm. Scott Swift.
The 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, and the 3rd Fleet, based in the U.S. city of San Diego, are separated by the international date line near Hawaii. The 3rd Fleet is mainly tasked with protecting the U.S. homeland, while the 7th Fleet is responsible for everything between Hawaii and the India-Pakistan border, including the hotly contested South China Sea.
“I have a lack of understanding of why there is such allegiance to the international date line. This is a blurring of the demarcation,” Swift said,
As he was saying the United States Navy should use the “total combined power” of the 140,000 sailors, the over 200 ships and the 1,200 aircraft that make up the Pacific Fleet.
The Admiral is very vocal with his words when a Chinese frigate entered the “contiguous zone” near the Japanese-administered Senkaku Islands, in the East China Sea.
“It was the first time a vessel belonging to the People’s Liberation Army has come so close to the islands,” Swift said.
As he was seeing a similar strategy occurring both in the South China Sea and in the East China Sea where “a context of uncertainty and angst in the region has brought about a lack of transparency.”
He said that the U.S. also, China have set up components to create an exchange of dialogue between the two militaries, yet that there is more to be done as far as improving mutual understanding.
“Is there a signal being sent? Have things changed? We find ourselves, once again, in this wait and see because right now dialogue is not leading to more clarity,” Adm. Swift said.
Swift also voiced concern about recent Chinese announcement “I was struck by remarks that have been made, with claims outside of what the Chinese refer to as the Nine-Dash Line. There is a new reference being made — that I hear about traditional fishing grounds. That has raised concerns,” he said.
The increased and combined Naval force of the 7th and 3rd Fleets should mean more 3rd Fleet vessels operating in the western Pacific, which is traditionally the 7th Fleet’s area. One such operation is the deployment of the Pacific Surface Action Group, under which the destroyers USS Spruance, USS Decatur and USS Momsen have embarked on a seven-month tour of Asia.
The ships will direct a wide scope of operations in the seventh Fleet’s region while staying under the operational control of third Fleet commander Vice Adm. Nora Tyson.
Swift has been sending Tyson to events in the western Pacific in recent months to signal the increased involvement of the 3rd Fleet in the region. “Adm. Tyson represented me at the Japanese International Fleet Review, here. She represented me at conferences and leadership events in New Zealand and Australia. She officiated over the change of command of the John C Stennis strike group in Singapore,” Swift said
“This is an acknowledgment that we will keep on operating around the world as per international norms and laws and in a maritime perspective in accordance with UNCLOS (the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea), with the solid and consolidated force of the Pacific Fleet, which incorporates both seventh and third Fleet,” Adm. Swift Added. - Robert Beerlak