US Navy destroyer transits Taiwan Strait, and another, more advanced ship of the same class added to western Pacific fleet

The US Navy’s guided-missile destroyer USS John S. McCain made a transit of the Taiwan Strait, drawing angry remarks from the People’s Republic of China, and another newer, more advanced ship of the same class was added to the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, yesterday, Thursday, February 4.

The transit of the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS John S. McCain (DDG 56) marked the first passage through the Taiwan Strait by a US Navy vessel since President Joe Biden assumed office, January 20. The previous transit occurred December 31, 2020.

While US 7th Fleet spokesperson Lt. Joe Keiley called the mission a “routine Taiwan Strait transit,” China’s People’s Liberation Army claimed during a press conference on the evening of February 4, that the US move “interferes with regional peace and stability.”

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Keiley said, noting that the voyage was “in accordance with international law.”

While the 130 to 180-kilometer wide strait lays between the People’s Republic of China and the free and democratic country of Taiwan, Beijing claims that Taiwan is part of it’s own territory, and asserts that foreign vessels must first ask China’s permission before sailing through.

“However, international law considers the strait an open waterway. The United States military will continue to fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” Keiley said, Stars and Stripes reported.

“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

On the same day, February 4, the Arleigh-Burke-class guided missile destroyer, USS Rafael Reralta (DDG 115) arrived at Yokosuka, Japan, for forward deployment as part of the US Navy’s 7th fleet.

“The forward presence of Rafael Peralta enhances the national security of the United States and allies and partners, and improves its ability to protect strategic interests,” US 7th Fleet Public Affairs announced.

USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115)
The USS Rafael Peralta (DDG 115), upon commissioning in 2017. Now part of the US 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka, Japan.

“The security environment in the Indo-Pacific requires that the U.S. Navy station the most capable ships forward.”

“Rafael Peralta is one of the newest, most capable ships in the Navy. With our security treaties and mutual defense treaties across the Indo-Pacific, it is imperative that we meet those requirements with the most capable platforms,” added Capt. DeMoss. “Ships like Rafael Peralta demonstrate our commitment to regional security and enable our partners and allies to uphold the rule of law in the Indo-Pacific.”

The Rafael Peralta is one of the newest of the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, commissioned in 2017. The ship is designed to undertake anti-aircraft, anti-submarine, anti-surface warfare, and strike operations.

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