Home Asia Pacific US destroyer carries out week’s second South China Sea FONOP

US destroyer carries out week’s second South China Sea FONOP

USS John S. McCain Spratly Islands FONOP
US Navy photo of USS John S. McCain in the South China Sea on December 22.

US Navy guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) carried out its second freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea this week, sailing in Vietnam’s claimed territorial seas on December 24.

USS John S. McCain sailed in the vicinity of Vietnam’s Con Dao Islands in the South China Sea “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access and navigational freedoms consistent with international law.”

The Vietnam FONOP follows another one from two days before, when the destroyer sailed past China’s Spratly Islands archipelago. Following the operation, China announced it expelled the destroyer from its territories. The US Navy disputed this, saying that “USS John S. McCain was not ‘expelled’ from any nation’s territory.” 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Joe Keiley said freedom of navigation operation was in accordance with international law.

Prior to these two operations, the same destroyer challenged Russia’s maritime claims in the Peter the Great Bay in the Sea of Japan last month.