By Tom Squitieri
WASHINGTON – A delayed freedom of navigation report for the last year shows U.S. forces operationally challenged 28 different excessive maritime claims made by 19 different claimants throughout the world from October 2019 through September 2020.
“As long as restrictions on navigation and overflight rights and freedoms that exceed the authority provided under international law persist, the United States will continue to challenge such unlawful maritime claims,” the Pentagon said in the new report.
“Many excessive claims were challenged multiple times,” the report said.
Countries where a FONOP was conducted are Algeria, Argentina, Brazil, China, Educator, Haiti, Iran, Japan, Malaysia, Maldives, Nicaragua, Pakistan, South Korea, Taiwan, Uruguay, Venezuela, Vietnam, and Yemen, according to the report.
Seven FONOPS were listed for China, two each for Iran and Malaysia. All others had one FONOP.
The report does not include dozen of sailings in parts of the South China Sea, the Black Sea, and other waterways not under illegal claims from nations but are considered by those nations are their sphere of influence.
The freedom of navigation program was established in 1979. The report is usually released in January of each year; Pentagon officials did not respond to questions regarding the delay.
(Photo: USS John S. McCain transits through Peter the Great Bay while conducting routine FONOP in November 2020/ U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 2nd Class Markus Castaneda)