The U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer, USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) has conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) near the disputed Spratly Islands in South China Sea on Aug. 28.
During the mission, the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer sailed within 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross Reef and Mischief Reef of the Spratly Islands archipelago. Both reefs are occupied and controlled by China but are also claimed by the Republic of China (ROC/Taiwan), the Philippines and Vietnam.
According to Cmdr. Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman with the U.S. 7th Fleet, the transit was conducted “today to challenge excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea”.
The development came amid rising tensions between Washington and Beijing due to trade war, U.S. sale of weapons to Taiwan and U.S. sanctions on Chinese companies. The trade war sharply escalated on Friday, with both sides leveling more tariffs on each other’s exports.