The USS John C. Stennis, carrying a strike group, sailed off to the contested region from Washington on January 15th, passing through the Luzon Strait separating Taiwan and the Philippines. The USS Stennis was accompanied by carriers USS Antietam and USS Mobile Bay and guided missile destroyers USS Stockdale and USS Chung-Hoon. The USS Blue Ridge was also in the area.
Trilateral talks were held on the USS Blue Ridge between the US Navy, the Philippine Navy and the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces to discuss how the nations could work together to secure the area from China, strengthen security and stability and develop multi-lateral training in the future.
The US has also increased surveillance flights over the South China Sea area. China, which has had control over Woody Island and the Paracel Islands after Vietnam lost to them, has shown to have a strong military airbase on Woody Island. China has also deployed jets to the island, and has not ceased to attack Spratly Islands and other surrounding islands.
The Royal Australian Navy and the Philippine Navy have both deployed new ships that have bolstered the current US presence. The Japanese Prime Minister has voiced his willingness to have the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces help patrol the South China Sea. It has likewise been reported that the US and Australia have been negotiating to have US tankers and bombers on strategic Australian bases.
With neither China nor the USA backing down, the chances of an all-out battle in the South China Sea continues to be a looming threat to both nations, and all the countries involved in the conflict.