BEIJING — The U.S. Pacific Fleet says a Navy warship had to dodge a Chinese destroyer during a Sunday morning incident in the South China Sea.

In a written statement emailed to Navy Times, Pacific Fleet officials say that a Luyang-class destroyer closed on the Decatur around 8:30 a.m. local time Sunday in “an unsafe and unprofessional" manner near Gaven Reef, making a series of “increasingly aggressive maneuvers” that were accompanied by warnings for the Decatur to leave the area.

The Chinese vessel came within 45 yards of the Decatur’s bow before the American warship veered off to prevent a collision, officials said.

“U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operate throughout the Indo-Pacific routinely, including in the South China Sea. As we have for decades, our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows," added Cmdr. Nate Christensen, Deputy Spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The Decatur had been conducting a freedom of navigation operation — a “FONOP” — about 12 nautical miles away from the Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands.

“FONOPs are not about any one country, nor are they about making political statements. However, FONOPs challenge excessive maritime claims and demonstrate our commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms, and uses of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations under international law,” Chistensen said.

Although occupied by fortified Chinese troops, the twin reefs are claimed by Vietnam, Taiwan and the Philippines.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, a strategic waterway.

The Chinese defense ministry says it opposes the U.S. warship’s entry into the waters “around China’s islands and reefs.”

It confirmed a Chinese missile destroyer was immediately deployed to identify the U.S. warship and drive it away.

Prine came to Navy Times after stints at the San Diego Union-Tribune and Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. He served in the Marine Corps and the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. His awards include the Joseph Galloway Award for Distinguished Reporting on the military, a first prize from Investigative Reporters & Editors and the Combat Infantryman Badge.

Share:
More In Flashpoints
US to boost military presence in Europe for Russia threat
Biden announced the permanent basing of a U.S. military garrison in Poland. He also said the U.S. is sending two additional F-35 fighter jet squadrons to the U.K. and more air defense and other capabilities to Germany and Italy.
Turkey lifting objections to Sweden, Finland joining NATO
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine prompted Sweden and Finland to abandon their long-held nonaligned status and apply to join NATO. But Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdoğan had blocked the move, insisting the Nordic pair change their stance on Kurdish rebel groups that Turkey considers terrorists.
In Other News
Load More