U.S. warship transits Taiwan Strait; sixth this year

Photo taken from facebook.com/USPacificFleet

TAIPEI (CNA) — A U.S. warship has been transiting the Taiwan Strait since Wednesday on routine operations, according to Taiwan’s defense ministry and the United States’ Pacific Fleet on Thursday.

“A U.S. vessel is sailing through the Taiwan Strait in a southerly direction. The armed forces is monitoring the situation in the region and no abnormalities have been detected,” Taiwan’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) said in a statement issued at 8 a.m.

The ministry did not identify the U.S. ship, but in a Facebook post Thursday morning, the U.S. Pacific Fleet said the vessel is the Arleigh Burke-class destroyer McCampbell.

The McCampbell is assigned to Destroyer Squadron Fifteen, the Navy’s largest forward-deployed destroyer squadron and the U.S. 7th Fleet’s principal surface force, according to the post.

The destroyer transits the Taiwan Strait, which is considered a potential flashpoint in the region, at a time when most of the U.S. aircraft carriers assigned in the Pacific are docked due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Some military observers have said that the U.S. is maintaining its military presence in the region through more frequent sorties and naval operations to avoid a power vacuum that could be taken advantage of by China.

According to the MND, this is the sixth U.S. naval ship transit in the Taiwan Strait since January this year, compared to a total of nine in 2019.

Su Tzu-yun (蘇紫雲), a security analyst, told CNA in April that U.S. vessels’ frequent appearances, and announcing them via social media, are a form of “military public diplomacy” aimed at signaling U.S. commitment to the region, amid China’s reported attempts to expand its military influence.