SOUTH CHINA SEA - On December 24, USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) asserted navigational rights and freedoms near Vietnam in the vicinity of the Con Dao Islands in the South China Sea. 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.
U.S. forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis, as they have for more than a century. They routinely operate in close coordination with like-minded allies and partners who share our commitment to uphold a free and open international order that promotes security and prosperity. All of our operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows-- regardless of the location of excessive maritime claims and regardless of current events.
The international law of sea as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention provides for the certain rights and freedoms and other lawful uses of the sea to all nations. The United States upholds these rights and freedoms as a matter of principle to preserve the freedom of the seas that is critical to global security, stability, and prosperity. As long as some countries continue to assert maritime claims that are consistent with international law as reflected in the 1982 Law of the Sea Convention and that purport to restrict unlawfully the rights and freedoms enjoyed by all states, the United States will continue to defend the rights and freedoms of the sea guaranteed to all.