An official website of the United States government
Here's how you know
A .mil website belongs to an official U.S. Department of Defense organization in the United States.
A lock (lock ) or https:// means you’ve safely connected to the .mil website. Share sensitive information only on official, secure websites.

Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Dec. 22, 2020

USS John S. McCain Conducts Freedom of Navigation Operation in South China Sea

By 7th Fleet Public Affairs SOUTH CHINA SEA

SOUTH CHINA SEA - USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the Spratly Islands, consistent with international law. This freedom of navigation operation (“FONOP”) 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.

All interactions with foreign military forces were consistent with international norms and did not impact the operation.

Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to 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 United States challenges excessive maritime claims around the world regardless of the identity of the claimant. The international law of the sea as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention provides for certain rights and freedoms and other lawful uses of the sea to all nations. The international community has an enduring role in preserving the freedom of the seas, which is critical to global security, stability, and prosperity.

The United States upholds freedom of navigation as a principle. As long as some countries continue to assert maritime claims that are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and that purport to restrict unlawfully the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all States, the United States will continue to defend those rights and freedoms. No member of the international community should be intimidated or coerced into giving up their rights and freedoms.

China, Vietnam, Taiwan, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines each claim sovereignty over some or all of the Spratly Islands. China, Vietnam, and Taiwan require either permission or advance notification before a foreign military vessel engages in “innocent passage” through the territorial sea. Under international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, the ships of all States –including their warships –enjoy the right of innocent passage through the territorial sea. The unilateral imposition of any authorization or advance-notification requirement for innocent passage is not permitted by international law, so the United States challenged these requirements. By engaging in innocent passage without giving prior notification to or asking permission from any of the claimants, the United States challenged the unlawful restrictions imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam. The United States demonstrated that innocent passage may not be subject to such restrictions.

U.S. forces operate in the South China Sea on a daily basis, as they have for more than a century. They routinely operate in close coordination with like-minded allies and partners who share our commitment to uphold a free and open international order that promotes security and prosperity. All of our operations are designed to be conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows –regardless of the location of excessive maritime claims and regardless of current events.

Summaries of U.S. freedom of navigation assertions are released publicly in the annual “DoD Freedom of Navigation Report.” Past reports are available online at https://policy.defense.gov/OUSDP-Offices/FON/

CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
ACDC: Marksmanship training Reel
May 21, 2024 - U.S. Marines with 1st Battalion, 7th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division, and service members with the Philippine Armed Forces conduct marksmanship training during Archipelagic Coastal Defense Continuum...

U.S. Pacific Fleet Announces 29th RIMPAC Exercise
Graphic intended for use as a placeholder for Statements and Press Releases without accompanying imagery.
May 21, 2024 - Approximately 29 nations, 40 surface ships, 3 submarines, 14 national land forces, over 150 aircraft and more than 25,000 personnel will participate in the biennial Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercise scheduled June 26 to...

Navy Awards Two Government of Japan Funded Contracts Totaling $122 Million for Work at Marine Corps Installation on Guam
Graphic intended for use as a placeholder for Statements and Press Releases without accompanying imagery.
May 21, 2024 - Naval Facilities Engineering Systems Command (NAVFAC) Pacific awarded two firm-fixed price task order Government of Japan (GOJ) funded contracts totaling $122 million for work at Marine Corps Base Camp Blaz (MCBCB) on Guam...

LANPAC Forum Strengthens Leadership and Alliances in Indo-Pacific
Lt. Gen. (Retired) Leslie C. Smith talks about patience, kindness, how to solve problems and the importance of see the Army as a profession and sense of purpose during the Leadership Forum at Honolulu, HI., on May 14, 2024. He asked Capt. Zhi Bing Cheong from the Singapore Army to share opinions about patience.

The LANPAC Leadership Forum professionally develops and inspires leaders, showcases USARPAC subordinate units, and engages both allies and partners across the USINDOPACOM area of responsibility.



(U.S. Army photo by Staff Sgt. Carolina Sierra)
May 21, 2024 - Senior non-commissioned officers, senior officers, warrant officers, allies, and partners across the United States Indo-Pacific Command (USINDOPACOM) area of responsibility came together May 14 through the 16 for three days...

U.S. Coast Guard visit to Republic of Palau strengthens maritime navigation and cooperation
Lt. Jay DeInnocentiis meets with Marine Transportation leadership and ATON technicians to discuss the fixed and floating ATON constellation in Palau on May 14, 2024. The team completed a vital weeklong mission in the Republic of Palau, setting the stage for future collaboration and bolstering safe maritime navigation and security. This visit, in response to a request from Palau Marine Transportation, focused on an Aids to Navigation (ATON) Subject Matter Expert Exchange (SMEE). (U.S. Coast Guard photo)
May 20, 2024 - The U.S. Coast Guard completed a vital weeklong mission in the Republic of Palau, setting the stage for future collaboration and bolstering safe maritime navigation and security...