June 15 (UPI) -- The United States has deployed an aircraft carrier to the South China Sea to conduct maritime security operations with allies, the U.S. Navy announced.
The Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group was deployed Monday to the U.S. 7th Fleet area to support free movement and operation in Indo-Pacific region.
The Navy said in a press release that the activities were in cooperation with "like-minded allies and partners to preserve international order in the South China Sea."
Overall free flow of trade in the South China Sea is important to international trade.
Annually, around a third of all global maritime trade -- worth approximately $3.5 trillion dollars -- passes through the sea, including a third of all crude oil and half the global supply of liquefied natural gas.
The 7th Fleet, the U.S. Navy's largest, was strategically placed in the area.
"The South China Sea is pivotal to the free flow of commerce that fuels the economies of those nations committed to international law and rules based order," Rear Adm. Will Pennington, commander, Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, said in Monday's press release.
Other U.S. vessels have transited the South China Sea in recent months on similar Freedom of Seas visits, with the last trip by the Reagan CSG happening in October 2020.
USNI reported in May that the Reagan CSG would be heading to the Middle East to replace the Eisenhower CSG in assisting the U.S. military's withdrawal from Afghanistan, with an arrival in the area expected later this summer.