U.S. Navy Destroyer Sails Near Disputed Island in South China Sea


A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island Saturday, an island claimed by China in the Paracel Islands chain in the South China Sea.

The Pentagon said the warship’s passage was a freedom of navigation operation intended to “challenge excessive maritime claims of parties that claim the Paracel Islands,” which are also claimed by Vietnam and Taiwan.

The destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) “transited in innocent passage within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island,” said Department of Defense spokesman Mark Wright. There were no Chinese Navy vessels in the vicinity at the time of the Curtis Wilbur’s transit.

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”This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas,” said Wright. “The excessive claims regarding Triton Island are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.”

None of the three countries were notified by the U.S. of the destroyer’s transit, “which is consistent with our normal process and international law,” said Wright.
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