An MH-60S Knight Hawk helicopter passes the USS Chafee (DDG 90) while delivering supplies to the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) during a vertical replenishment mission with the USNS Bridge in the Pacific Ocean on Jan. 2, 2012. Petty Officer 2nd Class James R. Evans, US Navy
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Tuesday, three U.S. officials told Reuters, even as President Donald Trump’s administration seeks Chinese cooperation in reining in North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs.
The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters. But it was not as provocative as previous ones carried out since Trump took office in January.
The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Chafee, a guided-missile destroyer, carried out normal maneuvering operations that challenged “excessive maritime claims” near the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.