U.S. Navy ship sails near disputed island
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.”