WASHINGTON/BEIJING – The U.S. Navy sent a guided-missile destroyer close to China’s man-made islands in the disputed South China Sea on Tuesday, drawing an angry rebuke from Beijing, which said it warned and followed the American vessel.
The patrol by the USS Lassen — which is deployed to the U.S. Navy’s base in Yokosuka, Kanagawa Prefecture — was the most significant U.S. challenge yet to 12-nautical-mile territorial limits China asserts around the islands in the Spratly archipelago and could ratchet up tensions in one of the world’s busiest sea lanes.
One U.S. defense official said the USS Lassen sailed within 12 nautical miles of Subi Reef. A second defense official said the mission, which lasted a few hours, also included Mischief Reef and would be the first in a series of so-called freedom-of-navigation exercises aimed at testing China’s territorial claims. Continue reading
The basic construction of China’s second People’s Liberation Army Navy aircraft carrier base on Hainan was completed in November 2014, according to an article in the August issue of Kanwa Defense Review, cited by the Chinese-language website of China’s Global Times.
The base incorporates a pier which can dock large ships on both sides, suggesting that both carriers can dock at the PLA Navy’s carrier bases at the same time, according to the magazine. The magazine stated that the new base is 700 meters long, giving it the longest carrier berths in the world. The US Navy carrier base in Yokosuka in Japan’s Kanagawa prefecture is only 400 m long, however, Naval Station Norfolk, in Virginia, which is just 430 m in length, can also take carriers in two directions. Continue reading