On April 12, 2020, the People's Republic of China directed the aircraft carrier Liaoning (辽宁) and its escorts towards the Republic of China, otherwise known as Taiwan. The Carrier Battle Group, composed of the carrier, two guided missile destroyers, two multi-role warships, and one supply ship, steamed through the 155 mile wide Miyako Strait and past Taiwan.
Due to COVID-19, the Liaong is now the only aircraft carrier operating in the Western Pacific. The only comparable American asset able to project power in the region is the USS America (LHA-6), an amphibious assault ship, with its small compliment of F-35B Lightning II stealth fighters in the East China Sea. Both the USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) are currently unable to preform their intended missions in the Pacific and have been sidelined due to numerous COVID-19 cases.
The guided-missile destroyers USS Mustin (DDG-89), USS Barry (DDG-52), USS McCampbell (DDG-85), and guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CC-54) are the only other warships in the area besides the USS America without reported COVID-19 cases and operating at full capacity.
The views expressed are those of the author and do not reflect the official policy or position of the United States Army, Department of Defense, or the United States Government.