China denies US aircraft carrier from making scheduled port call

Sailors man the rails on the flight deck aboard the aircraft carrier USS John C. Stennis (CVN 74 as the ship enters Pearl Harbor in 2013. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist Seaman Jose L. Hernandez/Released)

The USS John C. Stennis, a Nimitz-class nuclear-powered supercarrier named for Senator John C. Stennis of Mississippi was denied a scheduled port call in Hong Kong.

The carrier has been conducting operations in the South China Sea since March 31.  People’s Liberation Army Navy ships have been “shadowing” the carriers movements nearly the entire time they have been conducting operations, according to Navy Times.

Despite the professional interaction between the two navies, China canceled the scheduled port visit for nearly 4,000 sailors.  The Chinese government told the U.S consulate that the timing was “inconvenient” for China.

This is the first time that China has canceled a visit since August 2014 but one official said, “It is entirely possible that it really was just inconvenient for them.”

The command ship, USS Blue Ridge, which is the oldest deployable warship of the U.S. Navy was granted permission to make a port visit.

Some believe that China’s decision could have been influenced by Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter’s recent visit and announcement of joint U.S. and Philippine patrols of China’s man-made islands.

China had been in  a territorial dispute with the Philippines that is expected to be resolved by an international court soon.  China claims almost all of the South China Sea is its territory and even went has far as dredging to make artificial islands in order to bolster the claims.

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