USS Dewey (DDG-105) completed a Freedom of Navigation Operation near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea Friday, U.S. 7th Fleet announced.
Dewey, a forward-deployed guided-missile destroyer assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, conducted the FONOP in the “excessive claim area” near the Spratly Islands, which are claimed by China, Vietnam and Taiwan, with features also claimed by the Philippines, Malaysia and Brunei. Unlike previous news releases on FONOPs by the Spratlys, the 7th Fleet release did not give more detail about where Dewey sailed.
“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 the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Taiwan, and Vietnam,” reads the 7th Fleet statement.
However, Duan Dang, a South China Sea watcher, posted a satellite photo on X, the social media site formerly known as Twitter, that shows Dewey near Itu Aba, a part of the Spratlys occupied by Taiwan.
USS Dewey was spotted conducting a FONOP near Taiwan-occupied Itu Aba in the Spratly Islands on Nov 03. pic.twitter.com/S4JuVZdWL3
— Duan Dang (@duandang) November 3, 2023
China, Vietnam and Taiwan require prior notification before a warship sails by the Spratlys, which violates international law, according to the release. Dewey‘s FONOP, without prior notification, was meant to challenge the claims by China, Vietnam and Taiwan.
“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,” reads the release.
Dewey‘s FONOP comes the day after USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) and Royal Canadian Navy Halifax-class frigate HMCS Ottawa (FFH-341) conducted a Taiwan Strait transit. The two ships were tailed by Chinese aircraft and warships, USNI News reported.
The People’s Liberation Army put out a statement calling the Taiwan Strait transit “hyped up.”
Neither Chinese news outlets People’s Daily nor Global Times covered Dewey‘s FONOP.