Home : Media : News : News Article View
NEWS | Sept. 8, 2021

7th Fleet Conducts Freedom of Navigation Operation

U.S. 7th Fleet Public Affairs

SOUTH CHINA SEA -- USS Benfold (DDG 65) 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. USS Benfold demonstrated that Mischief Reef, a low-tide elevation in its natural state, is not entitled to a territorial sea under international law.

The PRC's statement about this mission is false. USS Benfold conducted this FONOP in accordance with international law and then continued on to conduct normal operations in international waters. The operation reflects our commitment to uphold freedom of navigation and lawful uses of the sea as a principle.

The United States will continue to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as USS Benfold did here. Nothing PRC says otherwise will deter us.
The PLA(N)'s statement is the latest in a long string of PRC actions to misrepresent lawful U.S. maritime operations and assert its excessive and illegitimate maritime claims at the expense of its Southeast Asian neighbors in the South China Sea. The PRC's behavior stands in contrast to the United States' adherence to international law and our vision for a free and open Indo-Pacific region. All nations, large and small, should be secure in their sovereignty, free from coercion, and able to pursue economic growth consistent with accepted international rules and norms.

On Sept. 8, USS Benfold (DDG 65) 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. USS Benfold demonstrated that Mischief Reef, a low-tide elevation in its natural state, is not entitled to a territorial sea under international law.

The United States engaged in “normal operations” within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef. Under international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention, features like Mischief Reef that are submerged at high tide in their naturally formed state are not entitled to a territorial sea.

The land reclamation efforts, installations, and structures built on Mischief Reef do not change this characterization under international law. By engaging in normal operations within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, the United States demonstrated that vessels may lawfully exercise high-seas freedoms in those areas.
U.S. forces routinely conduct freedom of navigation assertions throughout the world. 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.

The United States upholds freedom of navigation as a principle. The Freedom of Navigation Program’s missions are peaceful and conducted without bias for or against any particular country. These missions are rule-of-law based and demonstrate our commitment to upholding the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations.

Freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea are a part of daily operations of U.S. military forces throughout the region.
CONNECT WITH USINDOPACOM
Facebook

Like Us
Twitter
306,823
Follow Us

ENGAGE & CONNECT MORE WITH PACOM

                                                 

IN THE USINDOPACOM NEWS
New Course Brings Humanitarian Perspective on Conflicts in the Indo-Pacific
Jan. 11, 2022 - CAMP H. M. SMITH, Hawaii -- Fifteen U.S. Marines from various units under 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force participated virtually in the first official Humanitarian Assistance Response Training (HART)-Conflict course run by the...

Pentagon Moves to Health Protection Condition Charlie
A Department of Health and Human Services employee holds a COVID-19 vaccine record card Nov. 13, 2020, in Washington D.C.  The cards will be sent out as part of vaccination kits from Operation Warp Speed, which is an effort by several U.S. government components and public partnerships to facilitate the development, manufacturing and distribution of COVID-19 vaccines, therapeutics and diagnostics.
Jan. 11, 2022 - WASHINGTON -- Due to recent increases in COVID-19 positivity case numbers, the Defense Department headquarters has moved to Health Protection Condition Charlie (HPCON), Pentagon Press Secretary John F. Kirby said during a...

90th FS Pilot Selected for NASA’s 2021 Astronaut Candidate Class
Jan. 11, 2022 - JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska -- From the last frontier to the final frontier, a 90th Fighter Squadron pilot’s lifelong dream has come true.“I’ve wanted to be an astronaut since I was a little kid; I can’t even...

U.S. and Germany Provide a Refrigerated Truck and IT Equipment to Support the COVID-19 Vaccination Effort in Laos
U.S. and Germany Provide a Refrigerated Truck and IT Equipment to Support the COVID-19 Vaccination Effort in Laos.
Jan. 11, 2022 - LAO, U.S. Embassy in Laos -- The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Federal Ministry of Health of Germany (BMG) are continuing to support the Lao PDR’s goal to vaccinate 80 percent of the population by...

Air Force Moves Forward with $28.9M Contract Award at Andersen AFB
Munitions storage igloos at Andersen Air Force Base, Guam. Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s Det. 2 recently awarded $28.9 million for the construction of 12 sustainable facilities in support of an on-going effort consisting of 20 new igloos. This is a four-phased project to increase munitions storage capacity at Andersen AFB.
Jan. 11, 2022 - ANDERSEN AIR FORCE BASE, Guam -- The Air Force Installation and Mission Support Center’s Detachment 2 successfully led the award of a $28.9 million contract recently to construct new reinforced munitions storage magazines...