US Navy destroyer sails through the Taiwan Strait

The Burke-class Aegis missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG-89) sailed through the Taiwan Strait today, August 18, after completing exercises in the East China Sea, according to reports by Taiwan media outlets.

Both Taiwan and China dispatched ships to monitor the passage, according to United Daily News. The People’s Republic of China sent a type 052D guided missile destroyer, while Taiwan assigned a Cheng Kung class guided-missile frigate, according to the report.

The Ministry of Defense did not confirm the information, and MOD spokesperson Major Geneeral Shih Shun-wen (史順文) declined to comment on the matter, Liberty Times reported.

East China Sea Exercise

The USS Mustin’s voyage comes after completion of joint exercises with Japan in the East China Sea that began on August 15. The integrated operations were part of an ongoing shared commitment to regional stability, according to Destroyer Squadron 15 Public Affairs.

“We share an enduring commitment to international rules-based order,” said Cmdr. Todd Penrod, commanding officer, USS Mustin. “Our alliance remains strong, thanks to the close and consistent engagements through integrated operations such as these, which reinforce international norms and stability, DS 15 reported of the East China Sea exercises.

The USS Mustin is part of Destroyer Squadron 15 of the US Seventh Fleet, and is based a the Yokosuka Naval Base in Japan.

B-1b Lancer flight path over the East China Sea
A US Air Force B-1b Lancer, supersonic, nuclear-capable bomber entered East China Sea Sunday, August 16, as joint US – Japan Naval exercises were underway, according to aircraft watcher @Golf9 via Twitter. United Daily News reported that the B-1b entered the PRC’s Air Identification Zone.

South China Sea Operations

Concurrent with the East China sea exercise, the USS Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group was operating in the South China Sea over the weekend, and was tracked close to the Dongsha (Pratas) Islands after entering the South China Sea on Friday, August 14.

The USS Ronald Reagan strike group conducted maritime air defense operations, also in support of a free and open Indo-Pacific, according to the US Navy’s Task Force 70 Public Affairs team.

“Integrated training included air-to-air operations, combat search and rescue drills, and air defense exercises to increase joint force capability to respond to regional contingencies and maintain war fighting readiness,” Task Force 70 reported.

“Integration with our joint partners is essential to ensuring joint force responsiveness and lethality, and maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific,” said U.S. Navy Cmdr. Joshua Fagan, Task Force 70 air operations officer aboard USS Ronald Reagan. “The recent integrated training between our carrier strike group and Air Force B-1s is the latest example of how we are continually working to stay synched with all of our joint partners and ready to respond to any contingencies throughout the region.”

An F/A-18E launches off the flight deck of USS Ronald Reagan.
An F/A-18E launched off the deck of the USS Ronald Reagan during operations in the South China Sea, August 14, 2020. Picture: US Navy
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