USS Nimitz to Visit Sri Lanka Saturday; First U.S. Carrier to Visit Colombo in More than 30 Years
( October 28, 2017, Colombo, Sri Lanka Guardian) Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) is set to make a port call in Sri Lanka, according to a statement from the U.S. Embassy.
The carrier is set to dock in the port of Colombo on Saturday for a three-day port visit – the first to dock since the mid-1980s, according to the statement.
“Building our maritime partnership in step with Sri Lanka’s own progress on reconciliation and human rights advances our shared national goals of fostering security and stability,” said U.S. Ambassador to Sri Lanka and Maldives Atul Keshap in a statement.
“I’m delighted that U.S. sailors will have the chance to visit Sri Lanka, meet with its wonderful people, and take part in public service activities at schools, hospitals, and rest homes that will improve the lives of Sri Lankans of all ages… While in port, sailors will also work with local non-profit organizations to support community service events at a local hospital, an orphanage, and other sites.”
Currently, there are three U.S. carrier strike groups operating in the U.S. 7th Fleet area of operations.
Strike groups centered on carriers Nimitz (CVN-68), USS Ronald Regan (CVN-76) and USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71) are currently operating in U.S. 7th Fleet and could conceivably come together for the first three carrier exercise in a decade.
The AP cited unnamed defense officials saying there were plans for the three strike groups exercise for some time next month.
Director of Joint Staff Lt. Gen. Kenneth McKenzie addressed the possibility on Thursday.
“We always seek to do that when we have an opportunity to do it. It doesn’t come along very often,” McKenzie said.
“It does demonstrate a unique and powerful capability that has a very significant assurance effect on our allies in the western Pacific.”
The exercise could come as President Donald Trump visits the region in a multi-country visit in early November.
The last U.S. three carrier combined exercise was in 2007 off of Guam as part of the biennial Valiant Shield exercise series. Carriers included were Nimitz, USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74) and the now-retired conventionally powered USS Kitty Hawk (CV-63).