Home Asia Pacific South China Sea: US destroyer conducts FONOP near Paracel Islands

South China Sea: US destroyer conducts FONOP near Paracel Islands

US destroyer freedom of navigation operation
USS Mustin (DDG 89) near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea on Aug. 27. Photo: US Navy

The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the South China Sea on August 27, a day after reports emerged that China had tested a “carrier killer” missile.

Japan-based USS Mustin conducted the FONOP in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands, relatively close to where the Chinese DF-26B missiles landed during the test, according to South China Morning Post. The Pentagon has also expressed concerns about China’s ballistic missiles tests in the disputed region.

China’s missile test, in turn, came a day after a US U-2 spy plane reportedly flew into a no-fly zone during a Chinese fire naval drill.

China said it deployed People Liberation Army (Navy) assets to escort the ship during its transit of “China’s territorial waters”. The country reiterated that it had “indisputable sovereignty” over South China Sea islands.

This is USS Mustin’s second Paracel Islands FONOP this year, having conducted the first one in May this year. The destroyer also made multiple Taiwan Strait transits this year.

The US Navy noted that ships assigned to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet routinely conduct FONOPs in the region to refute illegal claims to international waters and limitations of freedom of navigation.