A recent photo of the CO and XO of the Flight IIA Burke-class destroyer USS Mustin (DDG-89) observing the Chinese Type 001 (Kuznetsov-class) aircraft carrier Liaoning (16) off the warship’s port side bridge wing is getting lots of heartburn in the Western Pacific.
Largely because of editorial cartoons such as this:
From the South China Morning Post:
“In the photo, Commander Briggs looks very relaxed with his feet up watching the Liaoning ship just a few thousand yards away, while his deputy is also sitting beside him, showing they take their PLA counterparts lightly,” said Lu Li-shih, a former instructor at Taiwan’s Naval Academy in Kaohsiung. “This staged photograph is definitely ‘cognitive warfare’ to show the US doesn’t regard the PLA as an immediate threat.”
The US Navy has released a provocative photo showing senior officers watching a Chinese warship as China and the United States flex their maritime muscle in the East and South China Sea.
The Taiwan News:
A researcher at the Beijing-based Yuan Wang think tank conceded to the newspaper that there is still a “big gap between the US and Chinese aircraft carrier strike groups.” Meanwhile, Kanwa Defence Review editor-in-chief Andrei Chang asserted the photo was meant to serve as a “warning to the PLA” that the U.S. was fully aware of the carrier group’s movements.
Meanwhile, the Theodore Roosevelt Carrier Strike Group [USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN 71), Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 11, USS Bunker Hill (CG 52), USS Russell (DDG 59)] and the Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group [USS Makin Island (LHD 8), USS Somerset (LPD 25), USS San Diego (LPD 22)] with the 15th MEU embarked, recently joined forces in the South China Sea to conduct Expeditionary Strike Force operations.