An F/A-18E Super Hornet prepares for launch from the flight deck the USS Theodore Roosevelt as the carrier cruises in formation with the USS Nimitz in the South China. Navy photo

The San Diego-based USS Theodore Roosevelt was joined by a second aircraft carrier Tuesday during a freedom of navigation mission in the South China Sea.

The Bremerton, WA-based USS Nimitz and its strike group joined the Roosevelt for a series of exercises in the region where China is building artificial islands and claiming territorial control.

The last time the U.S. conducted dual-carrier operations in the South China Sea was in July 2020, when the USS Ronald Reagan and Nimitz strike groups twice operated together in the area.

“Training with Carrier Strike Group Eleven in the South China Sea is a tremendously valuable opportunity,” said Rear Adm. Doug Verissimo, commander of the Roosevelt’s strike group. “Through operations like this, we ensure that we are tactically proficient to meet the challenge of maintaining peace and we are able to continue to show our partners and allies in the region that we are committed to promoting a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The Roosevelt’s group includes the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill and the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers USS Russell and USS John Finn.

The Rossevelt departed San Diego for a scheduled deployment to the Indo-Pacific region on Dec. 23

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