US Aircraft Carrier the USS Carl Vinson has started what it calls “Routine Operations” in the South China Sea, with a fleet of supporting warships.

Aircraft carrier strike group has begun patrols in the South China sea amid growing tension with China over control of the disputed waterway and concerns it could become a flashpoint under the new U.S. Administration

The U.S. Navy said the force, including Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, began routine operations in the south china sea.

The strike group’s commander, Rear Admiral James Kilby, said weeks of training in the pacific had improved the group’s effectiveness and readiness.

The deployment comes days after China’s Foreign Ministry warned Washington against challenging Beijing’s sovereignty in the region.

China claims several contested shoals, islets and reefs in the area

It has been constructing artificial islands with airstrips in the South China sea for a number of years.