6. SOUNDBITE: (English) Lieutenant Commander Tim Hawkins, public affairs officer, USS Carl Vinson
"We are currently conducting this deployment in the western Pacific includes operating in the South China Sea to do three things. Number one we want to maintain our working relationships with our partners and allies so we are here to work with them we are here to build that cooperation. Number two we are also here to maintain regional stability, when ever we are here we reassure those partners and allies and that's important to maintain that regional stability and number three we want to promote freedom of the sea, freedom of the seas and freedom of navigation allowing that trade to continually pass through without any interruption is very important not only for the United States but for the regional economy."
7. Fighter jets on carrier
8. SOUNDBITE: (English) Lieutenant Commander Tim Hawkins, public affairs officer, USS Carl Vinson
"Our operation in the South China Sea so far has been absolutely routine. Just flying and sailing where ever international law allows. We have not specifically conducted a freedom of navigation operation. That's not to say that we won't or we can't but we have not up to this point."
A Navy officer aboard a mammoth US aircraft carrier brimming with F18 fighter jets said Saturday that American forces would continue to patrol the South China Sea wherever "international law allows" when asked if China's newly built islands could restrain them in the disputed waters.
Lieutenant Commander Tim Hawkins told The Associated Press on board the USS Carl Vinson that the Navy has carried out routine patrols at sea and on air in the strategic waters for 70 years to promote regional security and guarantee the unimpeded flow of trade that's crucial for Asian and US economies.
Hawkins spoke on the flight deck of the 95,000-ton warship, which anchored at Manila Bay while on a Philippine visit.
The US Navy invited journalists on board the 35-year-old carrier, which was packed with 72 aircraft, including F18 Hornets, assault helicopters and surveillance aircraft. President Rodrigo Duterte has tried to back down from what he said was a Philippine foreign policy that was steeply oriented toward the US, but has allowed considerable engagements with his country's treaty ally while reviving once-frosty ties with China.
US Navy officials flew some of Duterte's Cabinet officials and journalists on board the Carl Vinson for a brief tour while it was patrolling the South China Sea on Wednesday.
China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia and Brunei have long contested ownership of the South China Sea, which straddles one of the world's busiest sea lanes and is believed to sit atop vast deposits of oil and gas.
Washington stakes no claims in the disputed region, but has declared that the peaceful resolution of the long-raging disputes, along with the maintenance of freedom of navigation and overflight, are in its national interest.