USS Benfold Transits Taiwan Strait Following South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Ops

USS Benfold (DDG-65) transited the Taiwan Strait Tuesday, less than a week after its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea irked the Chinese government. Benfold‘s transit comes three days after it sailed near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea as part of a freedom of navigation operation, U.S. 7th Fleet […]

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65) on June 24, 2022

USS Benfold (DDG-65) transited the Taiwan Strait Tuesday, less than a week after its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea irked the Chinese government.

Benfold‘s transit comes three days after it sailed near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea as part of a freedom of navigation operation, U.S. 7th Fleet said in a press release last week.

“This freedom of navigation operation (“FONOP”) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging restrictions on innocent passage imposed by the People’s Republic of China (PRC), Vietnam, and Taiwan,” according to the 7th Fleet statement.

Benfold sailed near the Paracel Islands last week, prompting ire from Beijing, which sent People’s Liberation Army Navy frigate Xianning (500) to monitor the U.S. destroyer, USNI News previously reported.

It is not clear if Beijing monitored Benfold again.

The warship’s operations in the South China Sea have caused China to claim the U.S. is being hypocritical in their policies, according to a People’s Daily story on the recent operations. China is holding maritime exercises in the South China Sea from Sunday to Wednesday, according to the same story.

Benfold followed international law in operating around the Spratly Islands, according to the 7th Fleet statement.

“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to 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,” according to the statement.

Benfold is part of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, which was operating in the South China Sea, according to USNI News’ Fleet Tracker.