U.S. vessels conduct 7th transit of Taiwan Strait since July 2018

04/29/2019 12:30 PM
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USS William P. Lawrence, photo from U.S. Pacific Fleet
USS William P. Lawrence, photo from U.S. Pacific Fleet

Taipei, April 29 (CNA) Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed Monday that two American vessels sailed through the Taiwan Strait on Sunday, the seventh such transit since July 2018.

Two Navy warships entered the Taiwan Strait from the southwest, heading north Sunday, the MND said in a statement, but did not name the two vessels.

The ministry said U.S. ships freely passing through the Taiwan Strait is part of the mission of the Indo-Pacific strategy, adding that Taiwan's military monitored and has overall information regarding the transit.

According to a Reuters report earlier in the day, the two destroyers were identified as the USS William P. Lawrence and USS Stethem.

USS Stethem (photo from U.S. Pacific Fleet)

The transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific, Reuters said, quoting a statement from the U.S. Pacific Fleet.

The destroyers USS Mustin (DDG-89) and USS Benfold (DDG-65) sailed through the strait on July 7 2018, USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG-54) and Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) conducted a strait transit on Oct. 22, USS Stockdale (DDG-106) and USNS Pecos (T-AO-197) on Nov. 28.

This year, USS McCampbell (DDG-85) and oiler USNS Walter S. Diehl (T-AO-193) traversed the Taiwan Strait on Jan.24, USS Stethem (DDG 63) and USNS Cesar Chavez (T-AKE-14) transited on Feb. 24, which was followed by the transit of the guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur and the maritime security cutter USS Bertholf on March 24.

In addition, French frigate Vendemiaire (F734) passed through the the 180-kilometer-wide strait on April 6, a rare transit by a vessel from a European country.

Asked to comment, President Tsai Ing-wen (蔡英文) said on April 25 that the Taiwan Strait is in international waters and all kinds of vessels pass through it regularly.

The Republic of China (Taiwan) Armed Forces has "overall and precise" information regarding all vessels that pass through the waterway, regardless of whether they are military or civilian vessels, she added.

According to Reuters, as a result of the passage, China notified France that it was no longer invited to a naval parade to mark 70 years since the founding of China's navy on April 23-25, citing unnamed U.S. officials.

Warships from India, Australia and several other nations will participate, the report said.

(By Matt Yu and Chung Yu-chen)

Enditem/AW

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