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Two U.S. Navy Warships Transit Taiwan Strait

(top) USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) and (bottom) USS Antietam (CG-54). US Navy Photos

THE PENTAGON – Two U.S. Navy warships transited the Strait of Taiwan on Monday, passing through international waters near China, U.S. officials confirmed.

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) passed through the roughly 110-mile-wide sea lane separating mainland China and the island of Taiwan with no incidents reported, according to Pentagon officials.

“We have no information indicating now any unsafe or unprofessional behavior from China,” Lt. Col. Chris Logan, a Pentagon spokesman, said during a press briefing Monday.

A U.S. official confirmed to USNI News to the Chinese warships shadowing the U.S. ships acted professionally.

In contrast, on September 30 a Chinese Luyang-class destroyer was on a near-collision-course with USS Decatur (DDG-73), which was in the South China Sea conducting freedom of navigation operations (FONOP) near the Gaven Reef. The Chinese ship came within 45 yards of Decatur, in an incident U.S. Navy officials called “unsafe and unprofessional.”

The difference between the two types of operations is significant. Logan said “a FONOP is basically to challenge excessive maritime claims. A transit through the China-Taiwan Strait is just that, a transit through international waters: they are transiting from the South China Sea to the East China Sea

However, Monday’s Taiwan Strait transit comes just a week after the Australian Adelaide-class frigate HMAS Melbourne (FFG-05) also passed through the same sea lane, according to press accounts.

Although the strait is considered international waters, China claims Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory. Previously, China has complained about foreign navies passing through the Taiwan Strait.

In July, when USS Mustin (DDG-89) and USS Benfold (DDG-65) transited the Taiwan Strait, the Chinese government issued an angry tweet about the incident.

“The U.S. is aggravating Taiwan Strait tensions,” read the July tweet.

Following Monday’s transit, Chinese officials had not yet issued a response.

“The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. Navy will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman, said in a statement to USNI News.

  • Paul 2

    FON Ops. Woo hoo!

  • Kypros

    CG-54 and DDG-54. I wonder if the two 54s confused the Chicoms?

    • DaSaint

      I had the same thought.

    • Michael Hoskins, Privileged

      Can’t resist. “Car 54, Where are you?” Not many old enough to remember.

      • PolicyWonk

        Wonder if either of them had officers named Muldoon or Toody?

        ;-D

        • SDW

          oooh oooh I remember!

    • MichaelGee

      The “54” each had me confused, learned something new today.

      • MichaelGee

        Ha! Another “54”. How about BB-54? Love it. Battleship Massachusetts.

        • MichaelGee

          Sorry folks. I have to out myself as a Navy fan. Born and raised in Mayport. Ring a bell?

    • CharleyA

      About the (notorious) club in NYC?

  • DaSaint

    Amen.

  • Jim Chen

    These two are pretty old. I wonder what kind of ships china sent. I bet $5 the chinese ships are better and newer.

    • Kypros

      I guess that depends on what technology the Chicoms were able to steal to build them….

      • PolicyWonk

        They didn’t have to steal the technologies – the USA stupidly gave ’em away (well…98% of ’em).

    • .Hugo.

      from the pla navy eastern fleet, it could be a mixture of type 052c and 054 destroyers, plus a type 851 intelligence gathering ship. under the sea would be various type 039 subs.

  • muzzleloader

    Great to see this. Now let’s see an entire CVBG do the same,

  • Alex Andrite

    Bud ? in bottles ? Nah ! we need the cans for plinking targets. Bottles make a mess. McMuffin, nah ! In ‘n Out burgers, with crisp fries, Animal Style.
    Then sit back and plink away.

    Oh, NO Warthog passes allowed during lunch hour plinking.

  • Secundius

    Numbers are the same, nomenclature is not…

  • Charles R Jones

    Reminds me of when we took USS Bainbridge CGN25 between the China and Taiwan back in 1978. The CINCPACFLT ROE’s in case of a conflict between those two “enemies” were TS and probably remain that way.

  • SDW

    I think I heard an angry tweet while playing Angry Birds.

  • .Hugo.

    the widest point of the taiwan strait is about 400km, where the chinese missiles, from the yj-12 to the yj-18 and to the df-21, can all cover such range with ease.
    .
    your so-called “many many” u.s. missiles are mostly icbm, not tactical missiles, in such case the u.s. continent is constantly within the range of at least 2 types of chinese missiles too. 🙂

  • .Hugo.

    under the strike range of multiple missiles and so close to the mainland, i have to wonder who is really the lesser capable power here in the taiwan strait. 🙂
    .
    the people’s republic of china as a policy stands against any intrusion to its sovereignty too. no wonder the u.s. vessels have to sail on the taiwan side of the strait. 😀

  • .Hugo.

    that single comment actually validates the true determination to uphold a nation’s territorial integrity intruded by a foreign power, and in this case 2 fully armed warships. 🙂