Get Task & Purpose in your inbox
US And British Warships Join Forces In The South China Sea For The First Time In A Clear Message To China
U.S. and British warships have sailed together in the disputed South China Sea for the first time, in exercises likely to stoke anger in Beijing.
The guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell and Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll conducted the operations in the strategic waterway over a period of six days from Friday through Wednesday, the The U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet said in a statement.
The statement said the warships "conducted communication drills, division tactics, and a personnel exchange designed to address common maritime security priorities, enhance interoperability, and develop relationships that will benefit both navies for many years to come."
The joint exercises in the waters — the first since China built military bases there — come as the British Navy seeks to play a bigger role in the region and has dispatched the Argyll on a tour of Asia.
A U.S. Navy spokesman said there was "no record in recent history of operations together, specifically in the South China Sea," Reuters reported.
The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell (DDG 85), the Military Sealift Command fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO 187), and the Royal Navy Type 23 'Duke' Class guided-missile frigate HMS Argyll (F231) transit during a replenishment-at-sea. (U.S. Navy photo)
Beijing has constructed a series of military outposts throughout the waterway, which includes vital sea lanes through which about $3 trillion in global trade passes each year. The Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Taiwan and Brunei have overlapping claims in the waters, where the U.S., Chinese, Japanese and some Southeast Asian navies also routinely operate.
China says its facilities in the waters are for defensive purposes, but some experts say this is part of a concerted bid to cement de facto control of the waters.
Cmdr. Toby Shaughnessy, the Argyll's commanding officer, touted the operation as "contributing to promoting regional security and prosperity." Meanwhile, the Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture-based McCampbell's commanding officer, Cmdr. Allison Christy, praised the joint exercises as "a rare opportunity" to work with the Royal Navy.
"Professional engagement with our British counterparts allows us the opportunity to build upon our existing strong relationships and learn from each other," she said.
The move comes on the heels of a trilateral anti-submarine warfare exercise between the U.S. Navy, Royal Navy and the Maritime Self Defense Force on Dec. 21-22 and after another British warship, the HMS Albion amphibious assault ship, conducted a so-called freedom of navigation operation near the contested Paracel island chain claimed by China in the South China Sea last August.
Beijing blasted London over that operation — the first in which Britain had directly confronted China over its claims in the waters, accusing it of engaging in "provocation."
Washington — which has led the charge in challenging what it says are excessive maritime claims in the waters — has long urged boosted participation in such operations.
Earlier this month, the McCampbell passed within 12 nautical miles (22 km) of the same island chain in the U.S. Navy's latest FONOP. Just a day after that operation, Chinese state-run media announced that Beijing's so-called carrier killer anti-ship missile had been deployed to the country's northwest. While the actual deployment date of the DF-26 ballistic missile, which reportedly has a range of 3,000-4,000 km, was not mentioned, the report alluded to the U.S. operation, quoting an unidentified expert as noting that it served as "a good reminder that China is capable of safeguarding its territory."
"Even when launched from deeper inland areas of China, the DF-26 has a range far-reaching enough to cover the South China Sea," the expert added.
©2019 the Japan Times (Tokyo). Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
SEE ALSO: China Swallowed Islands In The South China Sea. Now It Wants To Eat Djibouti Like Groceries
WATCH NEXT: FONOPS Are Not Fun Ops
White supremacist Coast Guard officer who allegedly plotted mass violence imprisoned ahead of fresh charges
GREENBELT, Md. (Reuters) - A U.S. Coast Guard lieutenant accused of amassing a cache of weapons and plotting to attack Democratic politicians and journalists was ordered held for two weeks on Thursday while federal prosecutors consider charging him with more crimes.
Attorneys for the Constitutional Law Center for Muslims in America have filed a lawsuit against Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, Attorney General William Barr and President Donald Trump asking the court to recognize the citizenship of an Alabama woman who left the U.S. to join ISIS and allow she and her young son to return to the United States.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The United States will leave "a small peacekeeping group" of 200 American troops in Syria for a period of time after a U.S. pullout, the White House said on Thursday, as President Donald Trump pulled back from a complete withdrawal.
Trump claims border wall is under construction 'right now' using fence repair footage from 5 months ago
With a legal fight challenge mounting from state governments over the Trump administration's use of a national emergency to construct at the U.S.-Mexico border, the president has kicked his push for the barrier into high gear.
On Wednesday, President Trump tweeted a time-lapse video of wall construction in New Mexico; the next day, he proclaimed that "THE WALL IS UNDER CONSTRUCTION RIGHT NOW"
But there's a big problem: The footage, which was filmed more than five months ago on Sep. 18, 2018, isn't really new wall construction at all, and certainly not part of the ongoing construction of "the wall" that Trump has been haggling with Congress over.
Group of American vets detained in Haiti on weapons charges brought back to US, arrested upon landing
A group comprised of former U.S. military veterans and security contractors who were detained in Haiti on weapons charges has been brought back to the United States and arrested upon landing, The Miami-Herald reported.
The men — five Americans, two Serbs, and one Haitian — were stopped at a Port-au-Prince police checkpoint on Sunday while riding in two vehicles without license plates, according to police. When questioned, the heavily-armed men allegedly told police they were on a "government mission" before being taken into custody.