The U.S. Navy Lewis and Clark-class dry cargo ship USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE 3) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the vicinity of Tsushima Strait near Japan on Dec. 15.
According to a statement released by the U.S. 7th Fleet, the ship conducted normal operations within claimed territorial seas to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law. U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations
U.S. forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, as they have for more than a century. They routinely operate in close coordination with like-minded allies and partners who share our commitment to uphold a free and open international order that promotes security and prosperity. All of our operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows –regardless of the location of excessive maritime claims and regardless of current events.
The international law of the sea as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention provides for certain rights and freedoms and other lawful uses of the sea to all nations. The United States upholds these rights and freedoms as a matter of principle to preserve the freedom of the seas that is critical to global security, stability, and prosperity. As long as some countries continue to assert maritime claims that are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and that purport to restrict unlawfully the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all States, the United States will continue to defend the rights and freedoms of the sea guaranteed to all.