The Stennis Carrier Strike Group is back on patrol in the South China Sea amid simmering tensions over China’s move toward building a man-made island within striking distance of the Philippines.

The carrier John C. Stennis has been in the region for two weeks, conducing flight operations, training and working with partners, according to U.S. Pacific Fleet.

Defense Secretary Ash Carter is expected soon to visit the Stennis on its patrol, which comes as the Obama administration grapples with how to respond to China’s territorial grab in the strategically vital South China Sea. Details of these discussions emerged last week, when Navy Times reported that the military’s top commander in the Pacific is pushing for more aggressive moves to signal that it doesn’t consider the artificial islands as entitling China to territorial seas around them.

Read More- Navy Times