Yokosuka (Japan) - The USS Kitty Hawk and the Nimitz are headed to Taiwan for training exercises. According to Reuters, the carriers will be "responsibly positioned" off the coast just in case something happens (cough Chinese invasion cough) during this weekend's elections.
The carriers themselves are devastating platforms of aerial firepower, but they accompanied by several cruisers, destroyers and submarines that can also be used offensively. The Nimitz will have a full battle group accompanying it, while the Kitty Hawk will have just the USS Curtis Wilbur. This basically puts most of the United States 7th Fleet near Taiwan.
Military theorists and bloggers have speculated how China would attack Taiwan if independence was declared. The most common theory is that China would rain down thousands of missiles on military targets while simultaneously landing troops on the coast. Taiwan would have to slow down the offensive long enough for international help to arrive. Of course, having two aircraft carriers nearby would complicate any combat for the Chinese.
By outward appearances, China isn't too worried about the carriers. According to a recent interview with Spiegel, Chinese Naval Officer Chen Zhou said his country would defend its sovereignty with "all means" necessary.
The Kitty Hawk was commissioned in 1961 and first saw combat in the Vietnam War. It is forward deployed in Yokosuka Japan. This will be one of the last missions for the legendary carrier that has seen as it will be decommissioned later this year. The George Washington (CVN 73) will take over duties in the Pacific.