The commanding officer of the USS Barry, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, reiterated Sunday (Nov. 22) that its transit through the Taiwan Strait and presence in the South China Sea is vital to maintaining a free and open Indo-Pacific.
"The freedom of all nations to navigate in international waters is critically important. Barry's transit of the Taiwan Strait yesterday (Nov. 21) ensured the right and instills the confidence of all nations to trade and communicate in the South China Sea," Commander Chris Gahl said in a U.S. Pacific Fleet release. According to the USS Barry, it was the vessel's fourth routine transit through the strait this year, with the mission being to conduct maritime security operations and promote peace and stability in the region.
The release also cited Lt. Cmdr. Timothy Baker, who is the ship's planning and tactics officer, as saying that it conducted a Freedom of Navigation (FON) operation around the Paracel Islands this past April and then rendezvoused with the USS America expeditionary strike group for operations in the South China Sea.
"Whether operating independently or as a part of a larger group, Barry serves as a highly visible symbol of the overwhelming force the United States can deploy to defeat aggression," Baker said. Late on Saturday, Taiwan's Ministry of National Defense (MND) confirmed that the U.S. vessel entered the strait from the north and headed in a southerly direction.
Meanwhile, the ministry added that its military is monitoring the situation in the region and did not detect any unusual activities during the maneuver.
The Arleigh Burke-class is forward-deployed to Yokosuka, Japan, and assigned to Destroyer Squadron 15, according to the U.S. Pacific Fleet.