US Navy destroyer USS Nitze carried out a freedom of navigation operation in international waters outside Venezuela’s 12 nautical-mile territorial jurisdiction on June 23, contesting an excessive maritime claim by Venezuela.
The navy said the ship lawfully navigated an area the Maduro regime falsely claims to have control over, a claim that is inconsistent with international law.
The US Navy noted it routinely conducts freedom of navigation operations around the world to preserve the maritime navigation and access rights guaranteed to all nations and vital to the global mobility of US forces.
US Navy and Coast Guard ships are currently operating in the Caribbean as part of the US president’s enhanced counter narcotics operation.
“The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, preserving the rights, freedoms and lawful use of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations,” said Adm. Craig Faller, Commander of US Southern Command. “These freedoms are the bedrock of ongoing security efforts, and essential to regional peace and stability.”
Another region where the US Navy is routinely conducting freedom of navigation operations are the disputed portions of the South China Sea. The littoral combat ship USS Gabrielle Giffords is currently patrolling the region, and has staged presence ops near a standoff between Malaysia and China, some 200 nautical miles off the coast of East Malaysia. The ship took part in bilateral training exercises with Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) in the South China Sea on June 23.