The U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the Caribbean Sea on June 23, contesting “an excessive maritime claim by Venezuela”.
The destroyer conducted the operation in international waters outside Venezuela’s 12 nautical-mile territorial jurisdiction. During the operation, the ship lawfully navigated an area the “illegitimate Maduro regime falsely claims to have control over, a claim that is inconsistent with international law”.
According to the U.S. Navy, the service routinely conducts freedom of navigation operations around the world to “preserve the maritime navigation and access rights guaranteed to all nations and vital to the global mobility of U.S. forces”.
“Global access to international waters protects U.S. national interests, promotes a just international order, and ensures the U.S. Navy can accomplish key missions, including humanitarian assistance deployments, disaster relief operations, support to international counter-narcotics efforts, and multinational exercises that strengthen regional partnerships”, said a statement released by the U.S. Southern Command (SOUTHCOM).
U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships are currently operating in the Caribbean as part of the President’s enhanced counter narcotics operation.
“The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, preserving the rights, freedoms and lawful use of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations,” said Adm. Craig Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command. “These freedoms are the bedrock of ongoing security efforts, and essential to regional peace and stability.”