Home » Foreign Forces » China » Third Time In Four Months U.S. Warships Transit Tense Taiwan Strait


Third Time In Four Months U.S. Warships Transit Tense Taiwan Strait

Satellite image of the Taiwan Strait, separated mainland China on the left, from the island of Taiwan on the right. NASA photo

A U.S. warship and fleet replenishment oiler conducted the third transit through the Taiwan Strait in four months as tensions between Taiwan and China are on the rise.

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG-85) and Henry Kaiser-class oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193) steamed through the 110-mile-wide body of water separating Taiwan from mainland China in what the U.S. Navy described as a “routine passage,” Navy officials confirmed to USNI News.

“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,” Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman told USNI News in an email.

Thursday’s mission was different from other recent Navy freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) missions. In this case, U.S. policy does not dispute China’s claim over Taiwan, and the transit followed international law which allows for vessels to move directly through territorial sea without performing military exercises.

In October, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) passed through the sea lane. A month later, Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106) and Henry Kaiser-class fleet replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-AO-197) steamed through the same shipping lane.

China maintains a policy of insisting foreign warships ask permission and provide advance notice of their intent to transit through its territorial waters. However, China’s policy is not in accordance with international maritime law, according to a Tufts Univesity Law of the Sea Policy Primer. Since international maritime law does not require advance notice, the U.S Navy does not honor China’s request, which generally irritates the Chinese government.

CNN first reported McCampbell and Walter Diehl’s Taiwan Strait transit.

The transit comes as there’s been a growing sense of cross-strait animosity between the leadership in Beijing and Taipei. Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen and Chinese President Xi Jinping reportedly gave very different views of how the island and mainland should interact, according to media reports.

In dueling New Year’s speeches, Xi reportedly suggested it was time for reunification of China by adopting what is called a “One Country Two Systems” model of governing. In response, Tsai reportedly said Taiwan would never accept the “One Country Two Systems” model, according to an account in the Hong Kong-based South China Morning Post.

Then on Wednesday, China sent a Sukhoi Su-30 fighter jet and a Shaanxi Y-8 transport plane into the airspace near Taiwan, according to media reports.

USS McCampbell (DDG-85) departs U.S. Fleet Activities (FLEACT) Yokosuka and transits into Tokyo Bay, May 14, 2018. Navy photo.

In contrast to today’s event, two a half weeks ago McCampbell sailed past the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea as part of a FONOP. Since the 1990s China has claimed a straight baseline around the entire archipelago, a move not recognized by international law. Vietnam and Taiwan also claim the chain of islands.

McCampbell’s route past the Paracel Islands was intended to contest an excessive maritime claim, a Navy spokesperson told USNI News.

McCampell and Diehl’s Thursday’s transit, and the recent FONOP, both occurred without incident, according to the Navy.

During a recent visit to Beijing, Chief of Naval Operations Adm. John Richardson discussed safe maritime operations, including routine transits and FONOPs, with his counterpart from the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy, Vice Adm. Shen Jinlong.

  • Ed L

    Ishigaki Island Instead of Singapore put a couple of LCS based out of Ishigaki Island them they can do weekly runs round Taiwan. The chin-coms would not have much to complain about

    • .Hugo.

      and that’s still the taiwan side of the strait? so just what is changed? 🙂
      .

      • Ed L

        Around means Circumnavigate the island of Taiwan say 4 miles off the coast of the Island of Taiwan

        • .Hugo.

          4 miles is just 3.5 nautical miles, that’s well within the roc controlled taiwan’s territorial waters of 12 n.m.
          .
          that’s why, just what has changed? 😀
          .

  • Ed L

    why not they can pull into Miami Beach, Boston, San Francisco, Seattle, Cleveland, Houston, New Orleans, etc. and we can see how many Chinese Sailors want to play and defect to the locals. Hire a large number of hot women to seduce the chi-comm sailors

    • Centaurus

      Reminds me of a scene in Full Metal Jacket, in reverse. “You want # 1 or #2 FS ? ” Egad !

    • .Hugo.

      J-20 NUMBER ONE! Ed L • 9 hours ago
      Looks like China need to send its warship for “freedom of navigation operations” around usa territories see how they like it!
      .
      .
      actually china has already done that a few times. the u.s. could do nothing. 😉
      .

      • AmPatriotSmith

        You obviously don’t understand freedom of navigation. I understand it to mean that ANY nation has the right to sail 12 nautical miles from a nation’s coastal boundary; so, what you just said is ridiculous. Other nations have probably already sailed within twelve miles of our coastal limits. I am sure we have monitored their movements, but we don’t have a policy of confrontation like the commie countries do.

        • .Hugo.

          my understanding comes from unclos, and unclos has no such definition of freedom of navigation but innocent passage.
          .
          and sending warships on a military mission (fonops) to intrude other’s territorial waters with a specific aim to challenge its sovereignty is certainly not innocent passage. 🙂
          .
          maybe you don’t understand that instead? 😀
          .

          • TransformerSWO

            If you have read any of that international law stuff, you might want to keep reading to understand what constitutes activities that aren’t “innocent passage.” The include things like flight operations and firing weapons. Continuing to transit international waters, despite illegal claims of sovereignty, actually has nothing to do with innocent passage.

          • .Hugo.

            i have read enough to know that fonops is not innocent passage at all.
            .
            fonops is to employ armed military vessel to challenge other country’s maritime sovereignty.
            .

          • AmPatriotSmith

            It’s not China’s territorial waters. That’s the point of Freedom of Navigation Ops. Innocent passage is when you truly fly or sail unarmed into one’s territorial waters which is not the case here even though the Chinese unlawfully claim it to be their sovereign territory.

          • .Hugo.

            not chinese territorial waters when it is well within 12 n.m. of the roc held taiwan? are you now trying to say taiwan is not a chinese province, which even the roc constitution has not said so? 😀
            .
            and since when the warship was not armed in support of innocent passage?
            .

        • J-20 NUMBER ONE!

          Talking about confrontation you seem to have a big history about that.

      • sferrin

        Hate to burst your bubble but nobody cares.

        • Marcd30319

          .Hugo. just blogging his quota.

          • .Hugo.

            i am not after that, maybe you do? 🙂
            .

        • .Hugo.

          you just can’t burst anything as you can’t defy facts. 🙂

      • Ed L

        Like I said previously invited the Chinese warships in for port visits and encourage intense fraternization between the Chinese communist sailors and the citizens. Exposuring them to the decadent lifestyle of the West

        • .Hugo.

          more than enough chinese tourists have already exposed to your so-called “lifestyle of the west”, then they said “no thanks” and went back home to continue their good lives. 🙂
          .

    • J-20 NUMBER ONE!

      This is 2019 China not 1980s China. Noone in China want to defect except those who try to run away from financial crime.

  • omegatalon

    If Obama or Hillary Clinton was in the White House, this area would be avoided by all US Naval vessels; but Donald Trump is POTUS and doesn’t recognize China’s claims and sees the straits as being International waters.

    • .Hugo.

      i guess not too many people will care what trump sees, china will only watch what the u.s. navy will do instead. if it is sailing on the taiwan side of the strait, then that has happened often and nothing has really changed.
      .
      the u.s. navy should try something bolder, like sailing on the mainland side of the strait to show how “free” it can sail in “international waters”, hehe….
      .

      • Bulldogdriver

        Haha. Seems like your standards are dropping slowly. From resisting such transits to now picking on the side of the strait the DDG sailed on. Soon u will be saying the DDG didn’t dare to conduct live firing in the Taiwan Straits.

        • .Hugo.

          resisting such transits? since when china has “resisted” such transit when it took place in the taiwan side of the strait? 🙂
          .
          but yet, we are still not seeing any u.s. warships crossing the center line to show off, hehe….
          .

    • Duane

      Numerous FONOPs including Taiwan Strait passages were performed under every POTUS including Obama.

      Let’s see, what has Trump actually done to China in office? Oh, I see his daughter won a whole buncha trade licenses from the Chinese government .. that’s really showin’ em who’s the boss!

    • Curtis Conway

      The Democrats have never understood the difference between Law Enforcement and Combat. They have always strapped our troops with onerous Rules of Engagement, denying our culture and values of each citizen, who Volunteers to carry the message, and defend Freedom around the planet, defending the little guy. The US Military is NOT the world police force, but there is a huge difference in the mission sets for Cops on the Beat, and a Sheriff’s Deputy in his cruiser on patrol, and when trouble is recognized and the call goes out . . . the Cavalry Rolls.

      • .Hugo.

        your “freedom” is more like “freedom for u.s. warships to sail in other country’s waters”. 🙂
        .
        and since when your sheriff’s deputy can patrol other country’s territory without pre-approval? haha….
        .

        • Curtis Conway

          So . . . you Admit that you consider International Waters your own! THAT is why UNCLOS was written, and major powers around the globe steam in those waters, for most of us (US) are maritime economies.

          • .Hugo.

            other country’s waters as defined in unclos = 12 n.m. of territorial waters + 200 n.m. of eez. i do not admit that i consider your so-called “international waters” as my own, i only seek definition from unclos.
            .
            in both waters, foreign vessels steaming through have to observe both unclos rules and the maritime laws of the coastal state.
            .
            so now why not tell us in which section has unclos supported fonops, or even said foreign navies do no have to seek china’s approval to enter chinese waters? i can find you the otherwise instead and with ease. 🙂
            .
            and why not tell me how can a u.s. policeman patrol non-u.s. territory? 😀
            .

          • Curtis Conway

            When one believes in Law & Order, only the ‘order-less’ need fear. Which group do you belong?

          • .Hugo.

            i don’t see such differentiation.
            .
            all i can is that the u.s. has refused to sign on unclos but still wants to enjoy its rights, and is forcing others to comply, while its navy can continue to ignore unclos regulations.
            .
            so you can tell me, who is really ‘order-less’. 🙂
            .

    • petaluma

      Old Hillary was really adamant about “they know those islands are ours.” Her and Pelosi were at one time estimated to be getting ready to use the Taiwan issue to build power.

  • Centaurus

    Take THAT in the big red gonads, China.

    • .Hugo.

      on the taiwan side of the strait? err…. what to take? 😀
      .

      • sferrin

        So you acknowledge that it is Taiwan and not China then? You might not want to say that if you want to keep your job there at the local Chinese blog-spamming mill.

        • Marcd30319

          Well, there’s always a replacement .Hugo. if the current “unit” doesn’t work out or is defective or has performance issues. ;p

          • .Hugo.

            and proof please? 🙂

        • .Hugo.

          haha nice try, but you have forgotten that taiwan is controlled by the government of the republic of china as always. 😀
          .

  • Marcd30319

    .Hugo. sez: “the u.s. navy should try something bolder, like sailing on the mainland side of the strait to show how “free” it can sail in “international waters”, hehe….”

    .Hugo. used the American term “international waters”, hehe

    .Hugo. used to harp about “international water” on any “discussion” about freedom of navigation. but I guess it depends on when you use it!

    • .Hugo.

      and sure “international waters” in quotes?
      .
      i thought you could argue better than just that, hehe….
      .
      by the way, “international waters” is never an american term, it’s just not an unclos term.

  • Bulldogdriver

    Seems like now its standard procedure to have a tanker escorting the DDG for such transits. If a PLAN DDG tries to cut in front, the tanker will ‘display poor steering skill’ to ram it. We all know what a tanker can do to a overbuilt Arleigh Burke class. Imagine those PLAN DDGs which might look decent on the outside but of dodgy build quality on the inside manned by sailors who most likely will panic with any serious battle damage.

    • .Hugo.

      https://www. taproot. com/content/wp-content/uploads/2017/08/Fitzgerald.png
      .
      the uss fitzgerald, and that’s quite “dodgy” to me…. 😀
      .
      by the way, if the chinese navy really wants to cut in front a tanker, it would use a rigid landing craft to do so. the u.s. navy has been stopped by it once when the u.s. warship tried to spy on the chinese carrier.
      .