Officials visit US aircraft carrier

National 1 minute, 53 seconds

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN

BRUNEI’S Deputy Minister of Defence paid a visit yesterday to the US Navy aircraft carrier, USS John C Stennis, which is currently in international waters off the coast of Brunei to conduct maritime security operations.

First Admiral (Rtd) Dato Seri Pahlawan Abdul Aziz Hj Mohd Tamit lead a delegation which included senior officials from the Ministry of Defence (MinDef) and Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade (MoFAT), including Commander of Royal Brunei Navy, First Admiral Dato Seri Pahlawan Pg Norazmi Pg Hj Muhammad; Commander of the Royal Brunei Airforce, Colonel (U) Shahril Anwar Hj Ma’awiah; Permanent Secretary Datin Paduka Hjh Suriyah Hj Umar; as well as MinDef’s Director of Intelligence.

Rear Admiral Marcus Hitchcock, commander of the John C Stennis Strike Group, welcomed the delegation – which included local media – onboard after they made the one-hour air journey from Rimba Air Base.

The USS John C Stennis is currently on a seven-month deployment to the Western Pacific conducting what Hitchcock described as “routine peacetime operations”.

“One of our fundamental capabilities is providing maritime security in the high seas. So when we’re in international waters we can prevent piracy, the flow of smuggling, criminal activity, or terrorism,” he told reporters in an interview.

The Brunei visitors were treated to several air demonstrations from the fighter jets of Carrier Strike Group Nine, including fly-bys, a simulated dogfight, a bombing demo and helicopter sonar demo.

Carrier Air Wing Nine coordinates offensive and defensive air operations for the US Navy and also collects aerial intelligence.

The _USS John C Stennis _hosts 5,000 military personnel and 65 aircrafts on board.

The ship – which is as tall as a 24-storey building – can travel more than 1.6 million km before refuelling and holds two nuclear reactors.

Brunei’s Deputy Defence Minister said he was impressed with the “complex coordination” of the John C Stennis Strike Group, and thanked Rear Admiral Hitchcock for the United States’ commitment to maritime security, adding that he valued their presence in the region.

The USS John C Stennis will travel to the Philippines next after making recent port visits to Singapore, Korea and Guam. Last month, the ship made headlines when it was denied permission to make a port visit to Hong Kong.

The Brunei Times