Author Topic: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS  (Read 6810 times)

adroth

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Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« on: October 22, 2016, 12:03:52 PM »
This thread chronicles how the world is standing up to Chinese territorial ambitions

adroth

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #1 on: October 22, 2016, 12:04:45 PM »
U.S. warship challenges China's claims in South China Sea

Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) operates in the South China Sea as part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) in the South China Sea. Diana Quinlan/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS
By Idrees Ali and Matt Spetalnick | WASHINGTON

http://www.reuters.com/article/us-southchinasea-usa-exclusive-idUSKCN12L1O9

A U.S. navy destroyer sailed near islands claimed by China in the South China Sea on Friday, drawing a warning from Chinese warships to leave the area.

The U.S. action was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing's efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters, U.S. officials said.

The Chinese Defense Ministry called the move "illegal" and "provocative," saying that two Chinese warships had warned the U.S. destroyer to leave.

The guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur challenged "excessive maritime claims" near the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors, the officials said, speaking on condition of anonymity.

< Edited >

=====



Guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG 73) operates in the South China Sea as part of the Bonhomme Richard Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) in the South China Sea on October 13, 2016. Picture taken on October 13, 2016.  Courtesy Diana Quinlan/U.S. Navy/Handout via REUTERS
« Last Edit: October 22, 2016, 03:24:44 PM by adroth »

adroth

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #2 on: May 25, 2017, 12:25:12 PM »
The US Navy's First Trump-Era South China Sea FONOP Just Happened: First Takeaways and Analysis
A U.S. warship finally passes within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef.

By Ankit Panda
May 25, 2017
 
On Wednesday, a U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, the USS Dewey, sailed within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island in the South China Sea. Specifically, the U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near Mischief Reef, a Chinese possession that hosts one of Beijing’s seven artificial islands in the disputed Spratly Group.

Wednesday’s transit by the USS Dewey marks the first freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) by the Trump administration since its inauguration in January and the first such operation since the October 2016 operation in the Paracel group by USS Decatur.

< Edited >

The difference between a high seas FONOP and an innocent passage FONOP is not an academic distinction. In the former case, a military vessel would have to specifically operate in a manner not consistent with Article 19 of UNCLOS, which delineates a range of activities that are lawfully permitted for foreign vessels exercising innocent passage within the rightful territorial sea of a coastal state.

An explicit high seas assertion could include the vessel undertaking a range of activities, ranging from overt military actions like a live-fire exercise to the activation of fire control radars or even the launching of ship-based aircraft, helicopters, or drones.

By contrast, should it emerge that the Dewey complied with innocent passage requirements to protest Chinese prior notification requirements within 12 miles of Mischief Reef, Beijing’s excessive claim may be strengthened as the operation could be interpreted to tacitly cede a territorial sea entitlement.

Unfortunately, given what has been reported on the USS Dewey‘s operation so far, these details are sparse and likely will be unknown for some time. The U.S. Department of Defense is reportedly not intending to publicize the details of this operation until its Fiscal Year 2017 Freedom of Navigation report comes due next year.

The official Chinese reaction to Wednesday’s operation could offer clues, however. If the U.S. vessel did carry out activities permitted on the high seas, but not within a territorial sea in an obvious way, Beijing would likely be inclined to react with stronger rhetoric than it has in the past.

Beijing’s reaction, however, may be moderated by its overall approach to the Trump administration. In fact, apart from Wednesday’s FONOP, the administration has been remarkably silent on the South China Sea issue despite a degree of attention during the presidential transition period.

< Edited >

dr demented

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #3 on: May 26, 2017, 03:04:22 AM »
USS Dewey passed within 6 nautical miles of Mischief Reef.

https://news.usni.org/2017/05/25/u-s-warship-came-beijing-south-china-sea-claims

Quote
U.S. Warship Came Within 6 Miles of Chinese Artificial Island in Toughest Challenge Yet to Beijing South China Sea Claims
By: Sam LaGrone
May 25, 2017 1:04 PM

A U.S. destroyer sailed within six nautical miles of a Chinese artificial island on Wednesday in the strongest challenge of hotly debated Chinese claims in the South China Sea, USNI News has learned.

Around 7 P.M. EST on Wednesday (7 A.M. Thursday local time), USS Dewey (DDG-105) passed within six nautical miles of the Chinese installation on Mischief Reef in the Spratly Island chain, several U.S. officials confirmed to USNI News

The guided-missile destroyer operated normally and did not conduct the transit under the rules of an innocent passage – the restrictions that allow a warship to pass through another country’s territorial waters with no notice.

The U.S. destroyer was shadowed by a Chinese frigate for the duration of the operation and was challenged by radio and warned to leave the vicinity by People’s Liberation Army units more than 20 times, USNI News has learned.

A PLA spokesperson told reporters on Thursday two PLA Navy frigates had “warned off” Dewey.

The operation is the first freedom of navigation operation (FONop) to challenge Chinese South China Sea claims during the Trump administration and the first in the region since USS Decatur (DDG-73) conducted a FONOp against excessive Chinese claims in the Paracel Islands in October.

Pentagon spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis would not confirm the U.S. had conducted the specific freedom of navigation operation when asked by USNI News on Thursday morning.

“We are continuing regular FONOps, as we have routinely done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” Davis told USNI News.
“Summaries of these operations will be released publicly in the annual FONOps report, and not sooner.”

However, Chinese officials quickly confirmed and condemned Dewey’s passage past Mischief Reef early Thursday.

“The USS Dewey missile destroyer entered the adjacent waters of the relevant islands and reefs in China’s Nansha [Spratly] Islands without the permission of the Chinese government. The Chinese navy legally identified and verified the U.S. vessel and warned it to leave,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang
“The relevant action of the U.S. vessel undermined China’s sovereignty and security interests and is highly likely to cause untoward incidents in the waters and airspace. China is strongly dissatisfied and firmly opposed to this.”

The character of the passage and location of the Dewey FONop sends an unambiguous challenge to Chinese claims of sovereignty for its artificial island installations.

Unlike other Chinese artificial islands in the South China Sea, the Mischief Reef installation isn’t subject to overlapping territorial claims from any other country and is built on a low-tide elevation, as determined by the 2016 Hague tribunal ruling on Chinese claims in the South China Sea.

Under the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, a low-tide elevation cannot be claimed as the territory of any country and does not command a territorial sea.

“This is in my view the most significant of these [FONops]. Not only does it challenge China’s maritime claims in the South China Sea, it shoehorns in a challenge to China’s claim of the feature,” James Kraska, a professor of international law, oceans law and policy at the U.S. Naval War College’s Stockton Center for the Study of International Law, told USNI News on Thursday.

“The rationale is if the U.S. doesn’t recognize innocent passage there’s no territorial sea, and if there is no territorial sea there is no ownership by China.”

Since the U.S. restarted regular FONOps in the South China Sea in late 2015, the missions tested holdings that were claimed by multiple countries and did not single out excessive Chinese claims.

Gregory Poling with the Center for Strategic and International Studies Asian Maritime Transparency Initiative told USNI News that Wednesday’s operation past Mischief is different.

“Mischief is the only Chinese-occupied feature without a territorial sea, so it’s the only one where a non-innocent passage FONop could challenge the actual status of the reef,” he said.
“The Dewey just sent a message that, as far as the U.S. is concerned, the Mischief Reef is an artificial island entitled to no maritime entitlements whatsoever. Now the question is whether we keep it up.”

USNI News understands that earlier this month the Office of the Secretary of Defense presented the National Security Council a schedule for future regional FONops to create a menu of options for the NSC to choose from when U.S. assets are in the region.

An NSC spokeswoman provided USNI News a statement that did not acknowledge the FONOp schedule.

Opportunities for South China Sea FONOps during the early part of the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group deployment in February were not acted on to allow the Pentagon time to develop a cohesive strategy for the region, several defense officials told USNI News over the last few months.

While the Wednesday operation was the first Trump administration-approved operation, U.S. ships and aircraft have been active in the South China Sea.

While U.S. warships and aircraft need White House approval to come within 12 nautical miles of a contested South China Sea feature for a planned FONOp, U.S. ships have been routinely operating just outside the 12 nautical mile boundaries of Chinese claims for months.

dr demented

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #4 on: July 03, 2017, 01:28:33 AM »
USS Stetham conducted an FONOP within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracels.  It remains to be seen how close the ship passed.  USS Dewey, last May, passed within 6 nautical miles of Mischief Reef.

https://news.usni.org/2017/07/02/u-s-destroyer-conducts-freedom-navigation-operation-south-china-sea-past-chinese-island

Quote
UPDATED: USS Stethem Conducts Freedom of Navigation Operation Past Triton Island in South China Sea

By: Sam LaGrone
July 2, 2017 8:34 AM • Updated: July 2, 2017 9:19 AM

This post has been updated with a statement from U.S. Pacific Fleet.

A U.S. destroyer came within 12 nautical miles of a Chinese holding in the South China Sea, a U.S. defense official told USNI News on Sunday morning.

USS Stethem (DDG-63) passed by Triton Island in the Paracel Island chain on Sunday to test claims by not only Bejing but also Vietnam and Taiwan, the official confirmed to USNI News.

Since the Trump administration has begun testing excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea, Pentagon officials have repeatedly said they would not confirm reports of freedom of navigation operations outside of the yearly report that outlines the operations.

“U.S. forces operate in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea. All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows. That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe,” U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Lt. Cmdr. Matt Knight said in a statement to USNI News on Sunday.
“We conduct routine and regular FONOPs, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future. Summaries of these operations are released publicly in the annual DoD Freedom of Navigation Report, and not sooner.”

The passage was first reported Sunday morning by Fox News. Fox reported a Chinese warship shadowed Stethem during the transit.

While Pentagon officials are reticent to confirm details, it is likely Stethem conducted an innocent passage past Triton and tested Chinese requirement for prior notification before entering territorial waters and Beijing’s expansive claims around the Paracel Island chain.

“China claims illegal straight baselines that encircle the entire island group,” James Kraska, a professor of international law, oceans law and policy at the U.S. Naval War College’s Stockton Center for the Study of International Law told USNI News last year.

In October, USS Decatur (DDG-73) conducted a freedom of navigation operation that tested just the baseline. Vietnam and Taiwan also have claims to the territory which China has occupied since the 1970s.

In early 2016, USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) came within 12 nautical miles of Triton Island in the Paracels — without prior notification.

“This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas. The excessive claims regarding Triton Island are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention,” the Pentagon said at the time.

Stethem’s transit follows a May operation in which USS Dewey (DDG-105) passed within six nautical miles of the Chinese installation on Mischief Reef in the boldest statement the U.S. has made to date in challenging China’s claims to its artificial islands.

Without prior notification, Dewey came within six nautical miles of Mischief Reef and conducted a man-overboard drill as part of the test of Chinese claims.

While China’s militarization of its chain of artificial islands in the Spratly Islands chain closer to the Philippines have drawn the most international concern, Beijing has also been installing military equipment in its Paracel Island chain closer to Vietnam.

USNI News understands in May the Office of the Secretary of Defense presented the National Security Council a schedule for future regional FON ops to create a menu of options for the NSC to choose from when U.S. assets are in the region.

The following is the July 2, 2017 complete statement from U.S. Pacific Fleet to USNI News.

U.S. forces operate in the Indo-Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea. All operations are conducted in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows. That is true in the South China Sea as in other places around the globe.

We have a comprehensive Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOP) program under which U.S. Forces challenge excessive maritime claims across the globe to demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law.

FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, we conducted FONOPs challenging excessive maritime claims of 22 different coastal States, including claims of allies and partners.

We conduct routine and regular FONOPs, as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future. Summaries of these operations are released publicly in the annual DoD Freedom of Navigation Report, and not sooner.


dr demented

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #5 on: July 15, 2017, 04:44:52 PM »
While not specifically a FONOP, Canadian warships practicing freedom of navigation through the South China Sea managed to get tailed by the Chinese while operating in the region.

http://nationalpost.com/g00/news/canada/matthew-fisher-canadian-warships-shadowed-by-chinese-navy-in-south-china-sea/wcm/d7e5d3b0-bf59-48bc-9e31-4e4c221c3f13?i10c.referrer=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.google.com.ph%2F

Quote
Matthew Fisher: Canadian warships shadowed by Chinese navy in South China Sea

‘It was a bit of a cat-and-mouse game. They claim something that the world does not agree with. … They are very active these days,’ said the Chief Petty Officer

ABOARD HMCS WINNIPEG IN THE EAST CHINA SEA — For the first time that Canadian sailors can remember, Chinese warships have shadowed ships from the Royal Canadian Navy.

“We have interacted with Chinese ships,” was how HMCS Winnipeg’s captain Cdr. Jeff Hutchison put it.

A pair of People’s Liberation Army Navy frigates came within three nautical miles of HMCS Winnipeg during a freedom-of-passage exercise the Canadian frigate conducted with U.S., Australian and Japanese warships late last month in the hotly contested South China Sea. The ships were shadowed for about 36 hours, Hutchison said.

“Whenever we are near an American ship the Chinese are there,” said the Winnipeg’s coxswain (or senior enlisted sailor), Chief Petty Officer 1st Class Sylvain Jacquemot. “There is not an American ship in the South China Sea that does not get shadowed by a Chinese ship.

“They were three miles away but there was not a level of hostility. We were both practising freedom of navigation. It was a bit of a cat-and-mouse game. They claim something that the world does not agree with. … They are very active these days.”

China, South Korea and Japan are at loggerheads over claims to islands in the East China Sea, where Taiwan also has claims. But there even more disputed is the South China Sea, most of which China claims. Criss-crossed by cargo vessels, the sea has rich fishing grounds and large deposits of oil and natural gas. The waters have become a potential flashpoint since Beijing built a series of artificial islands atop coral reefs and sand bars there, with fighter jet-capable airfields and missiles now located there.

This expansion has created friction with Vietnam, Taiwan, the Philippines, Brunei, Malaysia and Indonesia, which have overlapping claims to the same tiny atolls and outcroppings. It has also angered Washington. The U.S. regards the South China Sea as international waters and not a Chinese lake, although some security experts believe that that is what it will eventually become.

As China is a major regional power in Asia it was to be expected that it would take an interest in the presence of a Canadian warship in the western Pacific, said the Winnipeg’s executive officer, Lt. Cdr. Landon Creasy.

“This was the first time to see them as real platforms” in 26 years in the navy, Creasy said, adding that “from a professional interest point of view, that was the highlight of the trip for me.

“We spoke with them two or three times by radio. They were exceptionally professional and polite.”

The proximity of the Chinese frigates was similar to what happened three years ago in the Baltic Sea when Russian warships followed HMCS Fredericton, on which prime minister Stephen Harper was embarked at the time.

A few days after the encounter in the South China Sea, a Chinese intelligence-gathering ship bristling with antennae and other electronic gear monitored the Winnipeg’s movements in as it entered the East China Sea, where it conducted exercises with a South Korean warship.

Why had Canada sent warships through these contested waters? “Canada is a rule-of-law country. That is our stance on things,” Hutchison said. “There is a right to transit international waters.”

Even so, the Winnipeg was careful to do nothing that the Chinese military might have considered provocative.

“There was more than enough room to stay well clear of the Paracels and the Spratlys,” Hutchison said, referring to islands that are among the most heavily contested.

“Even if Canada were to recognize this claim (China) could only claim a 12-mile limit. We were 100 miles away.”

A couple of months ago, as part of the same deployment in the western Pacific, the Winnipeg and HMCS Ottawa came within 30 nautical miles of the Scarborough Shoals, far closer to the Philippines than China but occupied by the Chinese military. On that occasion, no Chinese vessels or aircraft came out to study them.

The Winnipeg and the Ottawa have one month left in what will be a five-month voyage before they return to British Columbia. In the case of the Winnipeg, which traveled a little further than the Ottawa, it has been an epic, 12-leg, 41,500-kilometre flag-waving odyssey. Port calls have included California, Hawaii, Guam, the Philippines, Malaysia, India, Sri Lanka, Singapore, South Korea and Japan. The Ottawa visited many of the same ports and also made a visit to Shanghai to take part in a fleet review with the Peoples Liberation Army Navy.

The the trip was a marathon training exercise, with young sailors seeking technical qualifications required for a career at seas. It saw multiple live-fire exercises with allied navies — a missile was fired off California — and crews from Canadian and allied ships practised sending boarding parties comprised of new Special Forces-like teams of sailors out in small boats to clamber aboard each other’s decks to simulate the boarding of ships carrying hostages or illegal cargoes. The concept of using reservists to provide force-protection during port visits was also proven during the voyage.

“Whether you are doing an exercise with Canadian and American ships off our coasts or with Japanese and Korean ships, we are spending that fuel, regardless,” said the Royal Canadian Navy’s commander, Vice-Admiral Ron Lloyd, who was in South Korea. “The bottom line is you take your fuel wherever you are. You are paying the same whether you are over here or back in Canadian waters.”

Hutchison added: “The number of sea days required to force-generate must be done somewhere. Ships have to spend days at sea to train sailors. If we operate here in Korea, there is an even greater value.”

adroth

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #6 on: August 11, 2017, 09:53:14 AM »
US destroyer challenges China’s claims in South China Sea
Published August 10, 2017 5:57pm
Updated August 11, 2017 7:33am
By IDREES ALI, Reuters

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/world/621404/us-destroyer-challenges-china-s-claims-in-south-china-sea/story/?utm_source=GMANews&utm_medium=Facebook&utm_campaign=news

WASHINGTON - A US Navy destroyer carried out a "freedom of navigation operation" on Thursday, coming within 12 nautical miles of an artificial island built up by China in the South China Sea, US officials told Reuters.

The operation came as President Donald Trump's administration seeks Chinese cooperation in dealing with North Korea's missile and nuclear programs and could complicate efforts to secure a common stance.

The officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the USS John S. McCain traveled close to Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef) in the Spratly Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals. China has territorial disputes with its neighbors over the area.

It was the third "freedom of navigation operation" during Trump's presidency.

< Edited >

Ayoshi

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #7 on: August 11, 2017, 04:33:53 PM »
China slams latest FONOP by US Navy near Mischief Reef | IHS Jane's 360 - 11 August 2017
Quote
A Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs spokesperson has slammed the latest 'freedom of navigation operation' (FONOP) conducted by the US Navy (USN), claiming that the move infringed upon Beijing's sovereignty and endangered lives.

The remarks came on 11 August, after the USN's Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS John McCain (56) sailed within 12 n miles of Mischief Reef in the South China Sea the preceding day. The feature is the centre of overlapping territorial claims by China, the Philippines, Taiwan, and Vietnam.

Ayoshi

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #8 on: November 10, 2017, 04:23:12 PM »
Could the USCG be an Asset in the South China Sea? | maritime-executive.com - 2017-11-06
Quote
Recently there has been discussions at the highest level of the U.S. military concerning the deployment of U.S. Coast Guard assets to the South China sea and integrating them into the freedom of navigation operations (FONOPS) conducted by the U.S. Navy relating to the manmade atolls constructed by the Chinese and subsequently claimed as Chinese sovereign territory. It may be that these U.S. Coast Guard units, if deployed to the area, may turn out to be a combat multiplier or a diplomatic plus. However, given the meager USCG budget and the limited assets of the service, their deployment may prove to be insignificant or even fraught with danger.

Chinese Territorial Expansion Claims

The South China Sea (SCS) has become a flashpoint on the world stage. The People’s Republic of China has asserted territorial claims for many islands in the Spratly and Parcel groups that other nations, such as Viet Nam and the Philippines, claim as their own sovereign territory. In addition to these claims, the Chinese have occupied and militarized many of the manmade atolls which they have constructed in the same area. The photo below of Fiery Cross Reef in the Spratly chain illustrates the militarization of these artificial atoll platforms and the amount of military hardware that has been installed on many of them.

< snipped >

Enter the China Coast Guard

The China Coast Guard (CCG) is a critical tool in the effort to secure China’s maritime interests. According to the U.S. Department of Defense, the enlargement and modernization of the China Coast Guard has improved China’s ability to enforce its maritime claims. In relation to this, a survey conducted by China Power showed that of the 50 major incidents identified in the SCS, from 2010 onward, at least one CCG (or other Chinese maritime law enforcement) vessel was involved in 76 percent of incidents. Four additional incidents involved a Chinese naval vessel acting in a maritime law enforcement capacity, raising that number to 84 percent. China now possesses the world’s largest blue-water coast guard fleet and that it uses its law-enforcement cutters as an instrument of foreign policy. In relation to this, analysts conclude that in the flashpoints in the South China Sea, the Chinese are deploying coast guard ships and armed fishing vessels instead of its regular navy assets.

Enter the U.S. Coast Guard?

In January of 2017, Robbin Laird conducted an interview with the Commandant of the USCG, Admiral Paul Zukunft. “I have discussed with the CNO (Chief of Naval Operations) the concept that we would create a permanent USCG presence in the South China Sea and related areas,” Zukunft said. “This would allow us to expand our working relationship with Vietnam, the Philippines, and Japan. We can spearhead work with allies on freedom of navigation exercises as well.”

< snipped >

Others disagree with the above assessment. Brian Chao notes that the use of coast guard or constabulary forces in the South China Sea might actually increase the risk of war instead of easing tensions. He notes that using these forces as a diplomatic tool could lull all participants into a false sense of calm; however, these constabulary forces may be more willing to take aggressive actions because they may believe that the law is on their side.

In addition to this negative stance, Aaron Picozzi and Lincoln Davidson question whether or not the U.S. Coast Guard could handle a mission in the South China Sea. They point out the reality that the U.S. Coast Guard lacks the capacity to base a “visible” presence in the SCS and that due to budget restraints, it simply does not have the ship capacity to carry out effective, sustained patrols in that area of operations. They also claim that the placement of U.S. Coast Guard cutters in the SCS would create a void in the service’s main mission, namely law enforcement, or search and rescue operations in home waters.

If USCG assets are deployed to the SCS, it is hoped that because of the USCG’s good relations with its Chinese counterpart, tensions could be lessened and that U.S. interests could be better served. At this point, however, one must ask the following questions: What would happen if hostilities actually occurred and a situation arose pitting coast guard against coast guard? What kind of enemy capabilities and dangers would USCG personnel face?

dr demented

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #9 on: January 26, 2018, 04:25:34 PM »
2017 Freedom of Navigation Operations report released by the US Department of Defense.  The Philippines is also listed has having excessive maritime claims in the Sulu Sea.

http://policy.defense.gov/Portals/11/FY17%20DOD%20FON%20Report.pdf?ver=2018-01-19-163418-053

Article from The Diplomat discussing the report:

https://thediplomat.com/2018/01/in-2017-us-freedom-of-navigation-operations-targeted-10-asian-countries-not-just-china/?utm_content=buffer22b42&utm_medium=social&utm_source=facebook.com&utm_campaign=buffer

Quote
In 2017, US Freedom of Navigation Operations Targeted 10 Asian Countries — Not Just China

U.S. freedom of navigation operations aren’t just about China and the South China Sea.

By Ankit Panda
January 25, 2018

In 2017, the United States challenged excessive maritime claims from multiple Asia-Pacific states. All together, the U.S. military’s ships and aircraft carried out freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs) to challenge illegal and excessive claims by Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, the Philippines, Sri Lanka, Taiwan, and Vietnam. Non-Asian states also featured prominently as the target of these FONOPs.

The U.S. Department of Defense released its annual freedom of navigation report for the 2017 fiscal year (PDF) outlining these operations. The document is the first to be released under the Trump administration and covers a particularly busy year for the U.S. Navy in the Asia-Pacific region, including in the East and South China Seas.

This year’s document, for the first time, provides a geographic breakdown of where specific excessive claims were challenged with freedom of navigation operations (FONOPs), both by surface ships and military aircraft. In Asia, U.S. FONOPs focused on the Spratly and Paracel groups in the South China Sea, the East China Sea, the Indian Ocean, the Sulu Sea, the Java Sea, and the Strait of Malacca.

The 2017 freedom of navigation report helps dispel the idea that U.S. FONOPs in Asia are targeted against Chinese claims specifically. Given China’s particularly capacious claims in the South China Sea and its construction of militarized artificial islands, U.S. operations in the vicinity of China-held features tend to receive more publicity, but the U.S. Navy has challenged excessive claims from all claimants in the area, including U.S. partners and allies.

In the South China Sea, the 2017 report points out the specific excessive Chinese claims that the U.S. Navy challenged over the course of at least four publicized FONOPs. (Other operations may have taken place, without publicity or reports in the press.)

According to the report, operations targeted China’s “excessive straight baselines” claims in the Paracel Islands, claimed “jurisdiction over airspace above the exclusive economic zone,” “domestic law criminalizing survey activity by foreign entities in the (exclusive economic zone),” “prior permission required for innocent passage of foreign military ships through the TTS (territorial sea),” and “actions/statements that indicate a claim to a TTS around features not so entitled.” (The latter is a reference to the much-anticipated FONOP around Mischief Reef, one of the sites for a Chinese artificial island in the Spratlys.)

In the East China Sea, U.S. military aircraft challenged China’s “restriction on foreign aircraft flying through an Air Defense Identification Zone (ADIZ) without the intent to enter national airspace.” China unilaterally declared an ADIZ in the area in 2013.

U.S. FONOPs are concerned solely with excessive maritime and airspace claims and not with the sovereignty of disputed features. The U.S. continues to maintain that it does not take any position on which country should exercise sovereignty over any given disputed feature, be it in the East China Sea, the South China Sea, or elsewhere. These operations are merely an attempt to assert rights permitted to warships of any country under the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, which the United States treats as of customary international law even as it hasn’t ratified the Convention.

dr demented

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #10 on: March 24, 2018, 03:46:55 AM »
The latest FONOP involved the USS Musting (DDG-89) sailing within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef.

https://news.usni.org/2018/03/23/u-s-warship-sails-past-disputed-south-china-sea-artificial-island-freedom-navigation-mission

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U.S. Warship Sails Past Disputed South China Sea Artificial Island in Freedom of Navigation Mission
By: Sam LaGrone
March 23, 2018 12:30 PM • Updated: March 23, 2018 3:09 PM

A U.S. guided-missile destroyer conducted a freedom of navigation operation past an artificial island controlled by China on Friday, a U.S. defense official confirmed to USNI News.

USS Mustin (DDG-89) came within 12 nautical miles of Mischief Reef, an artificial island in the Spratly Island chain that is home to a major airfield, and conducted maneuvers near the Chinese base. Newswire Reuters first reported the operation on Friday.

“China holds indisputable sovereignty over the islands and their surrounding waters in the South China Sea,” defense ministry spokesman Ren Guoqiang said in a statement via CNN.
“By repeatedly sending military ships into these areas without authorization, the U.S. has seriously harmed Chinese sovereignty and security, violated basic rules of international relations, and harmed regional peace and stability.”

China claimed two People’s Liberation Army Navy frigates warded off the U.S. destroyer.

In a statement that did not acknowledge details of the operation, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said it conducts operations within the bounds of international law.

“All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows. We conduct routine and regular Freedom of Navigation Operations (FONOPs), as we have done in the past and will continue to do in the future,” read a statement from Lt. Cmdr. Nicole Schwegman provided to USNI News.
“FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements. The United States takes a strong position on protecting the rights, freedoms and lawful uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all countries and that all maritime claims must comply with international law as reflected in the Law of the Sea Convention.”

Of the artificial islands Beijing has built in the South China Sea, an operation past Mischief Reef sends the least ambiguous challenge to China’s claims in the region. The installation is built on a low tide elevation – a feature that is underwater at high tide – and under the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention doesn’t command a territorial sea. Though not specified by the official, previous missions past Mischief Reef have specifically challenged China claim of a territorial sea for the feature.

The last known challenge to Mischief occurred in August by guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG-56). In May, USS Dewey (DDG-105) came within six nautical miles of the base on Mischief Reef and spent 90 minutes within 12 nautical miles of the base.

USNI News understands this freedom of navigation mission is the second known FON op for the U.S. Navy in 2018. A January presence mission in which USS Hopper (DDG-70) operated near the Chinese-claimed Scarborough Shoal off the Philippines was part of the freedom of navigation program, a defense official confirmed to USNI News on Friday.

Ayoshi

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #11 on: March 27, 2018, 01:42:59 AM »
After US FONOP, China Intensifies Military Drills in South China Sea | The Diplomat - March 26, 2018
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In the most recent days, China released a series of announcements involving China’s military operations in the South China Sea and Western Pacific.

< snipped >

The PLAN’s staff department claimed that the training is “a routine part of the Navy’s annual training plan and is intended to boost the troops’ combat capability.”

https://thediplomat.com/2018/03/after-us-fonop-china-intensifies-military-drills-in-south-china-sea/

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #12 on: May 04, 2018, 04:33:30 PM »
Comments by US Ambassador Sung Kim, dated May 3, 2018:

http://www.gmanetwork.com/news/news/nation/652114/us-will-continue-freedom-of-navigation-ops-in-south-china-sea-despite-china-protests-amb-kim/story/

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US will continue freedom of navigation ops in South China Sea despite China protests – Amb. Kim

Published May 3, 2018 2:18pm

Defying Chinese calls to keep out of the South China Sea, Washington’s top diplomat to Manila on Thursday said the US will continue to conduct freedom of navigation operations in the disputed waters “to protect important international rights for everybody, including the Philippines.”

US Ambassador Sung Kim said the US is concerned over China’s recent unilateral actions in the waters, which suggest “that they are moving towards militarization.”

“We are concerned. I think we are concerned anytime a claimant, including China, takes aggressive unilateral actions towards militarization, which is clear what they have done and I saw the report,” Kim told journalists at the US Embassy in Manila.

China is accused of militarizing the South China Sea after it was reported that it has installed missiles and radars on artificial islands it built on the waters. It also reportedly sent Chinese military vessels in one of the Philippine-claimed features, called the Mischief Reef (Panganiban Reef), that it now controls.

Beijing dismissed The Hague tribunal’s decision on a case filed by the Philippines that invalidated its virtual claim over nearly the entire waters in July 2016.  It also refused to participate in the proceedings, which was done under the auspices of the 1982 United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea both signed by the Philippines and China.

The South China Sea is a vital sealane where oil and natural gas have been discovered in several areas. China, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan are asserting ownership over the waters in part or in whole.

“We have called on countries to refrain from reclamation and militarization of the reclaimed land and we will continue to do so,” Kim said as he stressed that “it is very important for us to be present” in the South China Sea.

Kim said the recent US warship visits to the Philippines, which includes aircraft carriers, USS Carl Vinson and USS Theodore, Roosevelt, as well as the USS amphibious assault ship Bonhomme Richard, are “directly relevant to the situation that we have in the South China Sea.”

“Not only does our presence through visits...demonstrate our commitment to Philippines-US alliance to the region and also to doing everything we can to protect freedom of navigation and overflight, commerce, which are not only important rights to the US but important rights for everybody including the Philippines. So we’ll continue whatever we can to protect those rights,” he said.

Although the US is not a party to the disputes, it has repeatedly declared that it is in its national interest to ensure freedom of navigation, trade and peace and stability in the South China Sea, where a bulk of the world’s trade passes through.

Despite China’s warnings, Kim underscored the importance of refraining from unilateral aggressive actions that are inconsistent with the international law and norms.

He said it is important for all claimants to refrain from reclamation and militarization of reclaimed lands and to uphold the rules-based order.

Kim also welcomed the ASEAN and China’s ongoing efforts to hammer out a code of conduct in the South China Sea which is aimed at preventing conflicting territorial claims from erupting into violent confrontations or worse, an economically-devastating major conflict.

The US envoy stopped short of saying that the US backs a legally-binding code of conduct but pointed out that he is unsure how “a vague and ambiguous document that is not binding would do in terms of helping the claimants resolve an obviously very complex situation.”

“I am cautious about commenting on specific elements that we would like to see but I think it would be in the interest of all parties to have a detailed and meaningful document that helps the parties, that guides parties towards the peaceful resolution of the disputes,” Kim said. — RSJ, GMA News

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #13 on: May 28, 2018, 12:56:19 AM »
The cruiser USS Antietam and destroyer USS Higgins conducted maneuvering operations within 12 nautical miles of Triton, Woody, Lincoln, and Tree Islands in the Paracels.

https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-china-military-exclusive/exclusive-us-warships-sail-near-south-china-sea-islands-claimed-by-beijing-idUSKCN1IS07W

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Exclusive: U.S. warships sail near South China Sea islands claimed by Beijing
Idrees Ali

WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Two U.S. Navy warships sailed near South China Sea islands claimed by China on Sunday, two U.S. officials told Reuters, in a move that drew condemnation from Beijing as President Donald Trump seeks its continued cooperation on North Korea.

The operation was the latest attempt to counter what Washington sees as Beijing’s efforts to limit freedom of navigation in the strategic waters.

While this operation had been planned months in advance, and similar operations have become routine, it comes at a particularly sensitive time and just days after the Pentagon uninvited China from a major U.S.-hosted naval drill.

The U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, said the Higgins guided-missile destroyer and the Antietam, a guided-missile cruiser, came within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, among a string of islets, reefs and shoals over which China has territorial disputes with its neighbors.

The U.S. military vessels carried out maneuvering operations near Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody islands in the Paracels, one of the officials said.

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Re: Freedom of navigation exercises in the WPS
« Reply #14 on: May 28, 2018, 05:58:29 PM »
China confronts US warships in South China Sea | Philstar - May 28, 2018
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The US Navy's guided missile cruiser USS Antietam and guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Paracel Islands, according to a report from The New York Times.

The US warships, which were conducting freedom of navigation operations, passed within 12 miles of four islands—Tree, Lincoln, Triton and Woody.

< snipped >

The US Navy ships' passing through the islands came days after the US disinvited China from the 2018 Rim of the Pacific Exercise, the world's largest international maritime warfare exercise.

The Pentagon's withdrawal of its invitation to Beijing was an "initial response" to the latter's increasing militarization of the South China Sea.