PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii -- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) operated in the Spratly Islands, July 14. This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea, recognized in international law, by challenging restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan.
Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea threaten the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations.
The U.S. challenges excessive maritime claims around the world regardless of the identity of the claimant. The international community has an enduring role in preserving the freedom of the seas, which is critical to global security, stability, and prosperity.
U.S. forces continue to operate in the South China Sea on a daily basis, as they have for more than a century.
U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict.