According to the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet, the Arleigh Burke class guided-missile destroyer “asserted navigational rights and freedoms near Vietnam in the vicinity of the Con Dao Island in the South China Sea” on Thursday.
“The ship conducted normal operations within Vietnam’s claimed territorial seas to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access and navigational freedoms consistent with international law,” the fleet said in a statement.
The announcement marks the USS John S. McCain's second operation in the South China Sea this week, after challenging unlawful restrictions on innocent passage by China, Taiwan and Vietnam in the Spratly Islands on Tuesday.
The U.S. Navy regularly sends ships through the South China Sea to ensure that the international waters remain open to all for innocent passage, despite attempts by China and other nations in the South China Sea to claim sovereignty.
"As long as some countries continue to assert maritime claims that are inconsistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and that purport to restrict unlawfully the rights and freedoms guaranteed to all states, the United States will continue to defend those rights and freedoms," the fleet added. "No member of the international community should be intimidated or coerced into giving up their rights and freedoms."