China snubs Kitty Hawk and Battle Group
Tension between China and the U.S. escalates when China turned away the Kitty Hawk and it's escort battle group.
TOKYO — Thousands of sailors aboard the carrier Kitty Hawk and its carrier battle group had to mark the Thanksgiving holiday at sea after they were denied entry to Hong Kong for a four-day port call that had been planned months in advance, Navy officials said Friday.
Hundreds of sailors’ families had flown to the city to spend the holiday with their loved ones, while dozens of Americans living in Hong Kong had prepared turkey dinners for those without visiting relatives.
In an unusual last-minute decision, China turned the ships away as they neared the port. It later reversed its decision, but by that time, the aircraft carrier, along with four warships and a nuclear submarine, was already leaving the area for their home ports in Japan.
“The crew members were disappointed, but that did not deter them from celebrating Thanksgiving on the ships with meals and movies,” said Lt. Cmdr. Steven Curry, a spokesman for the 7th Fleet, which has its home port in Yokosuka, just south of Tokyo.
“It’s hard to put any kind of positive spin on this,” said Adm. Timothy Keating, who heads U.S Pacific Command. Keating was flying back to the U.S. after visiting troops in Iraq on Thursday.
“I’m perplexed and concerned,” Keating said, adding that Beijing has given no reason for refusing the ships’ entry. “It’s my understanding the Chinese just said ‘no.’”