A United States Navy guided missile destroyer transited the Taiwan Strait today, February 26, and activated its Automatic Ship Identification System (AIS) – a clear signal that the United States military wanted all world is aware of the vessel’s presence in the key waterway.
Chinese think tank South China Sea Sounding Initiative was the first to announce the transit in a Tweet this morning, noting that “USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114) is transiting the #TaiwanStrait, with a[sic] USN EP-3E providing ISR support from the south.
Some analysts believe that the Ralph Johnson activated the AIS signal to convey US Navy support for Taiwan, noting that the two most recent transits were not voluntarily made public. On December 15, 2021, the American destroyer USS Chafee (DDG-90), and on January 22, 2022, the USS Dewey (DDG 105) transited the Taiwan Strait with vessel identification systems disabled.
The US Navy confirmed the passage this afternoon, announcing that the Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson was in “routine transit through international waters”.
“The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States‘ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The U.S. military flies, sails and operates wherever international law permits,” a spokesman for the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet said.
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