The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Decatur (DDG-73) was approached Sunday morning in the South China Sea by a Chinese warship in what Navy officials are calling an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver.
At about 8:30 a.m. local time, Decatur was conducting freedom of navigation operations (FONOps) in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea. China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Luyang-class destroyer approached Decatur, which was operating within 12 nautical miles of the Gaven and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly Islands, Cmdr. Nathan Christensen, a U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman, told USNI News in an email.
“The (People’s Republic of China) PRC destroyer conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for Decatur to depart the area. The PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of Decatur’s bow, after which Decatur maneuvered to prevent a collision,” Christensen said.
Decatur’s route passed rocks and reefs that China has turned into artificial islands in a bid to extend its South China Sea territorial claims. These islands are not recognized by international law as meeting the requirements to qualify as sovereign territory. (end of excerpt)
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(EDITOR’S NOTE: As a British journalist half-jokingly said in a Twitter post,
“Bearing in mind the problems with navigation in USN Pacific Fleet, are they in any position to judge "unprofessional" sailing by another navy..?”)