The move, likely to be interpreted by China as implicit support for self-ruled Taiwan, saw the U.S. send the Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture-based USS Curtis Wilbur destroyer and the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Bertholf, through the strait on Sunday and Monday, a U.S. 7th Fleet spokesman said.
The two vessels “conducted a routine Taiwan Strait transit Mar. 24-25 … in accordance with international law,” U.S. 7th Fleet spokesman Lt Joe Keiley said. “The ships’ transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
The mission was unusual, experts said, in that it was believed to be the first one involving a coast guard vessel.
US again sends ships through the #Taiwan Strait, this time apparently with a two-part twist: Japan-based #destroyer CURTIS #WILBUR DDG54 went thru on Sunday 24 March, while deployed US #Coast Guard cutter #BERTHOLF WMSL750 passed thru on Monday 25 March. https://t.co/oGivAJJn1z pic.twitter.com/5z4EOoEPgo— Chris Cavas (@CavasShips) March 25, 2019
The dispatch, which comes amid military and trade tensions between Beijing and Washington, is the third such sailing since Jan. 24, when the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell, which is also based in Yokosuka, and the USNS Walter S. Diehl conducted what the U.S. Navy also called “a routine” Taiwan Strait transit. On Feb. 26-27, the U.S. Navy also sailed the USS Stethem destroyer and the cargo and ammunition ship USNS Cesar Chavez through the waterway. (end of excerpt)
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