A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer conducted a freedom of navigation operation on Wednesday near the home of Russia’s Pacific fleet.
USS McCampbell (DDG-85) steamed through Peter the Great Bay in the Sea of Japan, near the port of Vladivostok – home to Russia’s Pacific Fleet.
“McCampbell sailed in the vicinity of Peter the Great Bay to challenge Russia’s excessive maritime claims and uphold the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea enjoyed by the United States and other Nations,” Lt. j.g. Rachel McMarr, a U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesperson, said in a statement to USNI News.
“U.S. Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis. These operations demonstrate the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. That is true in the Sea of Japan, as in other places around the globe.”
Moscow asserts the entire bay as Russian territorial waters, a claim that does not conform to international law.
Recently, the U.S. Navy’s FONOPS have mostly involved making a show of sending ships past islands claimed by China in the South China Sea. China has aggressively built up several islands in the region in an attempt to stretch the area it claims as sovereign territory beyond the international standard of 12 nautical miles from its mainland. Some of the islands are artificial and not recognized by international law.
“We conduct routine and regular freedom of navigation operations, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future. FONOPS are not about any one country, nor are they about current events. All freedom of navigation assertions are grounded in principle and the rule of law,” McMarr said.