SOUTH CHINA SEA - MAY 2, 2022 - Deep in the heart of the South China Sea lies a series of tiny atoll, dubbed the “Spratly Islands”, that are claimed by China, and to a lesser extent, Vietnam and Taiwan who are mostly concerned about fishing rights in the area. It is China, however, that has decided to militarize these islets by constructing naval bases and airfields and demanding their exclusive use in violation of international law.
Under the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention, the Spratly Islands and their vicinity are “International Waters”, open to all nations, including their warships, and they enjoy the right to “innocent” passage through these territorial waters unmolested. Unfortunately, some nations assert bogus maritime claims to these waters, even attempting to impose “restrictions” on navigators such as requiring “permission” to pass through the straits.
While these tactics may be intimidating to local anglers, not so to the United States Navy.
In this photo by MC3 Wade Costin, the crew of the U.S.S. Russell asserts navigational rights and freedoms in the Spratly Islands and elsewhere enforcing international law and the free navigational rights of all nations. China protests these sailings by threatening military action to frighten mariners into giving up their rights.
Conducting these “Freedom of the Seas” voyages, the mighty U.S. Navy defends the navigation rights of all nations, and shows that America will not be intimidated.
~~ SSG Jim (rt’d), of Your SOT Team