U.S. Navy ship sails near dis­puted is­land

Northwest Arkansas Democrat-Gazette - - INTERNATIONAL -

An Amer­i­can guided-mis­sile de­stroyer sailed near a dis­puted is­land in the South China Sea on Sun­day, a U.S. de­fense of­fi­cial said, mark­ing the sec­ond such oper­a­tion since Pres­i­dent Donald Trump took of­fice.

The Japan-based USS Stethem, an Ar­leigh Burke-class de­stroyer, sailed within 12 miles of Tri­ton Is­land, a small land­mass in the Para­cel Is­land chain. Fox News first re­ported on the in­ci­dent, known as a free­dom-of-nav­i­ga­tion oper­a­tion.

The 12-mile line is the in­ter­na­tion­ally rec­og­nized dis­tance that sep­a­rates the shores of a sov­er­eign na­tion from in­ter­na­tional wa­ters.

Tri­ton Is­land is claimed by China, Viet­nam and Taiwan. Dur­ing Sun­day’s oper­a­tion, a Chinese war­ship tailed the USS Stethem, Fox News re­ported, though it is un­clear how close the ship came to the Amer­i­can ves­sel.

Capt. Char­lie Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. Navy Pa­cific Fleet, did not con­firm the Sun­day oper­a­tion but said in an emailed state­ment that the Navy rou­tinely con­ducts free­dom-of-nav­i­ga­tion op­er­a­tions that are not “about any one coun­try, nor are they about mak­ing political state­ments.”

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