Two U.S. destroyers sailed into waters of some of China’s militarized islands in the South China Sea this week in a challenge Beijing’s expansive maritime claims, the Pacific Fleet said.
The guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble conducted freedom of navigation operations in the sea on Feb. 11. "Spruance and Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands in order to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law," Lt. Cmdr. Tim Gorman, a fleet spokesman, told Inside the Ring.
China’s Defense Ministry protested the action but disclosed that the warships sailed near Mischief Reef and Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratlys. Mischief Reef is the location of a 10,000-foot runway that is part of China’s efforts to militarize newly built islands in the strategy waterway.
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