During the past week, three U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyers were active in the South China Sea in two separate operations intended to support unfettered access to the region’s shipping lanes.
USS William P. Lawrence (DDG-110) joined an international maritime group operating in the South China Sea for the past week, according to the service.
William P. Lawrence joined Indian Navy destroyer INS Kolkata (D-63) and tanker INS Shakti (A-57), Japan’s helicopter-carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Murasame (DD-101), and the Philippine navy’s patrol ship BRP Andres Bonifacio (PS-17) for the week-long formation exercises, communication drills, passenger transfers and leadership exchanges.
“Our team was really excited to take part in this multilateral event,” Cmdr. Andrew Klug, commanding officer of Lawrence, said in a statement. “Professional engagements with our allies, partners and friends in the region are opportunities to build upon our existing, strong relationships, as well as learn from each other.”
Geng Shuang, China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson, was not aware of the multi-nation group’s activities, he said during a Thursday media briefing.
He did say, “I’d like to emphasize that as a principle, relevant countries’ policies on and actions in a region should be serving, instead of undermining, the region’s peace, stability and development.”
Earlier in the week, USS Preble (DDG-88) and USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93) steamed within 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson Reefs on Monday, according to several media reports including CNN. U.S. 7th Fleet did not respond to USNI News requests for more information about the Preble and Chung-Hoon’s operation.