A U.S Navy destroyer sailed near a man-made Chinese island in the South China Sea Wednesday, a U.S. defense official told Fox News.
The Navy patrol was the first “freedom of navigation operation” to occur near a Chinese man-made island since President Donald Trump took office in January, according to the official.
The USS Dewey, a guided-missile destroyer sailed less than 12 nautical miles away from Mischief Reef, one of a chain of disputed islands in the South China Sea.
The freedom of navigation patrol represents a challenge to excessive maritime claims, according to the Wall Street Journal, which first reported the operation.
Similar military operations must take place within 12 nautical miles of an island or feature’s territorial waters to legally constitute a freedom of navigation patrol.
Capt. Jeff Davis, a Pentagon spokesman, declined to comment to the newspaper on the operation. “We operate in the Asia-Pacific region on a daily basis, including in the South China Sea,” he said in a statement to the Journal. “We operate in accordance with international law.” He added that the patrols are “not about any one country, or any one body of water.”
Fox News’ Lucas Tomlinson contributed to this report.