In the South China Sea, where China is looming over merchant ships and building illegal man-made islands, things are heating up, according to ABC News. The U.S. Navy destroyer, USS Decatur, came nose to nose with a Chinese warship which ventured within a mere 45 yards U.S. vessel.
A source cited only as a U.S. official said that “the American ship transited a disputed island chain in the South China Sea on Sunday,” but this isn’t Uncle Sam nosing about where he shouldn’t be. These are international waters and trade routes.
These are rules which China had agreed to long ago when trade opened up decades ago. The United States’ Navy called their stunt “unsafe and unprofessional.” It left many in the military asking, “why would they do this?”
“At approximately 0830 local time on September 30, a PRC LUYANG destroyer approached USS DECATUR in an unsafe and unprofessional maneuver in the vicinity of Gaven Reef in the South China Sea,” clarified Capt. Charlie Brown, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific.
ABC concisely listed the problem as the fact that “Gaven Reef is located in the Spratly Islands chain in the South China Sea where China claims seven man-made islands as its own.” China moving to take over that area of the ocean is causing massive concerns for everything from world economic markets to armed forces, and the stress is starting to show.
The U.S. was “carrying out a freedom of navigation operation (FONOPs) in the Spratlys,” which is recognized as perfectly legal by the world community. These FONOP’s are done “to challenge excessive territorial claims of international shipping lanes.”
When the American vessel got within “12 nautical miles of Gaven Reef and Johnson Reefs in the Spratly,” the Chinese ship came to meet it. Brown stated that China’s “destroyer conducted a series of increasingly aggressive maneuvers accompanied by warnings for DECATUR to depart the area.”
He added, “The PRC destroyer approached within 45 yards of DECATUR’s bow, after which DECATUR maneuvered to prevent a collision.”
ABC noted that, to get an idea of how close this was, “a baseball catcher throwing the ball to second base to throw out a runner throws the baseball a distance of 127 feet,” and the ships were only about 135 feet apart.
Brown said openly, “U.S. Navy ships and aircraft operate throughout the Indo-Pacific routinely, including in the South China Sea. As we have for decades, our forces will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows.”
The Chinese government has not issued a comment on the ordeal nor on their actions.