A Asia

1st US-UK warship operation in the South China Sea

While the world is looking at the failed to the United Kingdom for answers to the rising concerns of the failed Brexit vote in parliament, the UK is looking to the East.

Earlier today, US and UK warships have sailed together through the disputed South China Sea for the first time. The exercise is meant to show muscles towards China which has been unrightfully claiming parts of the South China Sea as its territory.

The guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell and Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll led operations in the strategic waterway over a period of six days from Friday through Wednesday said the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet.

The statement by the fleet said that the warships “conducted communication drills, division tactics, and a personnel exchange designed to address common maritime security priorities, enhance interoperability, and develop relationships that will benefit both navies for many years to come.”

The joint exercises were the first since Beijing built military bases across the sea. For the UK, sending British navy has been part of a bigger plan to regain its status as a great navy nation, and rekindle its “fleet in being” strategy in the East Asian region.

The UK has particularly been interested to work with Japan as the land of the rising sun faces many economic, political, and financial struggles as the UK is bound to leave the EU.

China has built several military outposts throughout the vital sea lane, including artificial islands, disturbing the peaceful trade worth of $3 trillion annually.

China says that its actions in the waters are for defensive purposes, despite experts saying that it seeks control in the sea.

The Argyll’s commanding officer Cmdr. Toby Shaughnessy promoted the US-UK operation as “contributing to promoting regional security and prosperity” while the American McCampbell’s commanding officer, Cmdr. Allison Christy in Kanagawa, Japan, praised it as a “rare opportunity” to work with the Royal Navy.

She said:  “Professional engagement with our British counterparts allows us the opportunity to build upon our existing strong relationships and learn from each other…”.

The joint operation follows a trilateral anti-submarine warfare exercise between the U.S. Navy, Royal Navy and the Maritime Self Defense Force on Dec. 21-22.

It also comes after a British warship conducted a freedom of navigation operation near the contested Paracel islands in the South China Sea last August.

Beijing felt aggravated over that operation — the first in which the UK had directly challenged China’s sovereignty in the waters.

Conversely, Washington has led the forefront in challenging Beijing as it finds the country’s sea claims excessive. It has therefore encouraged countries to participate in actions which would counter the claims.

 

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