USS Dewey Sails a South China Sea FONOP Day After Destroyer Transits Taiwan Strait

November 3, 2023 1:18 PM
Ens. Isabella Lanca, from Palm Springs, California, uses a telescopic alidade on the bridgewing as Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Dewey (DDG 105) conducts routine underway operations. Dewey is forward-deployed and assigned to Commander, Task Force 71/Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15, the Navy’s largest DESRON and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Greg Johnson)

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.

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.

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio

Heather Mongilio is a reporter with USNI News. She has a master’s degree in science journalism and has covered local courts, crime, health, military affairs and the Naval Academy.
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