By Tom Squitieri, Talk Media News
WASHINGTON — A multi-nation eight-ship fleet of more than 1500 sailors today ends surface warfare, anti-submarine warfare, live-fire exercises, and joint maneuvers in the waters off Guam in the latest US-led effort to counter Chinese naval expansion in the South China Sea.
The ships from the U.S., Japan, South Korea, and Australia participated in the live-fire “Exercise Pacific Vanguard” as a signal to China. The military exercise comes as the U.S. seeks to build alliances and ratchets up military presence to keep international shipping lanes open and to buffer Chinese expansion outward into the near Pacific.
The U.S. sent a guided-missile destroyer, the USS Barry, capable of strategic land strikes with Tomahawk missiles and comes with a powerful radar and anti-aircraft capabilities, a Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine and fleet replenishment oiler USNS John Ericsson.
Pentagon officials had no comment on the exercises.
The exercise came as Australia considers joining a regional trade alliance with India, Japan, and the U.S. being called ‘The Quad’ with the goal to reduce reliance on trade with China. South Korea, Vietnam, and New Zealand are also expected to be invited to join the economic alliance.
(Australian defense ministry photo of Australian frigates HMAS Stuart and Arunta sail with warships from the US, Japan, and the Republic of Korea in the western Pacific on Wednesday)