USS Pinckney Freedom-of-Navigation Operation Challenges Venezuela’s Excessive Maritime Claim
(Source: US Southern Command; issued July 15, 2020)
On July 14 and 15, the destroyer USS Pinckney (pictured) carried out a ‘freedom of navigation’ mission in the Caribbean Sea off Venezuela, while a sister ship, the USS Johnson, carried out a similar mission in the South China Sea’s Spratly Islands. (USN photo)
CARIBBEAN SEA --- Today, the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91) challenged Venezuela’s excessive maritime claim in international waters during a successful freedom of navigation operation in the Caribbean Sea.

The U.S. Navy previously contested Venezuela’s excessive claim June 23, when the USS Nitze (DDG 94) lawfully and peacefully completed a similar operation in international waters outside of Venezuela’s 12 nautical-mile territorial sea.

The illegitimate Maduro regime improperly claims excessive controls over those international waters, which extend three miles beyond the 12-mile territorial sea, a claim that is inconsistent with international law.

The U.S. Navy conducts freedom of navigation operations worldwide to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms, access and lawful uses of international waters and airspace guaranteed to all nations.

Freedom of navigation operations help preserve the maritime navigation and access rights guaranteed to all nations.

Global access to international waters protects U.S. national interests, promotes a just international order, and ensures the U.S. Navy can accomplish key missions, including humanitarian assistance deployments, disaster relief operations, support to international counter-narcotics efforts, and multinational exercises that strengthen regional partnerships.

USS Pinckney, as well as other U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships, are currently operating in the Caribbean as part of the President’s enhanced counter narcotics operation.

“We will exercise our lawful right to freely navigate international waters without acquiescing to unlawful claims,” said Navy Adm. Craig Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command. “The guaranteed right of nations to access, transit and navigate international waters is not subject to impositions or restrictions that blatantly violate international law.”

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USS Ralph Johnson Conducts Freedom of Navigation Operation in South China Sea
(Source: US Navy; issued July 15, 2020)
PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii --- The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) operated in the Spratly Islands, July 14. This freedom of navigation operation upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea, recognized in international law, by challenging restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Vietnam, and Taiwan.

Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea threaten the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations.

The U.S. challenges excessive maritime claims around the world regardless of the identity of the claimant. The international community has an enduring role in preserving the freedom of the seas, which is critical to global security, stability, and prosperity.

U.S. forces continue to operate in the South China Sea on a daily basis, as they have for more than a century.


U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy's largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet interacts with 35 other maritime nations to build partnerships that foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict.

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