The US Navy has carried out such Freedom of Navigation operations in the South China Sea to challenge China’s claims to expansive maritime boundaries. This patrol comes amid talk of the Quad members (US, India, Japan and Australia) intensifying their military joint-activity to ensure ‘rule-based order’ in the Indo-Pacific.
In an unprecedented move, the US Navy’s seventh fleet has publicly challenged India’s maritime claim in the Arabian Sea by sending the USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53)—guided missile destroyer—inside India’s exclusive economic zone. Referring to its act as consistent with international law, the US Navy says that its destroyer asserted navigational rights and freedoms approximately 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands without requesting India’s prior consent.
The statement further underlined that such Freedom of Navigation Operations will continue in the future as well. “FONOPs are not about one country, nor are they about making political statements,” it added.
It is worth mentioning that India and China have passed domestic laws to back their views on the permissibility of foreign navies conducting military activities in their Exclusive Economic Zone. In 1976, India passed the Maritime Zones Act, which formally required all foreign warships to give prior notification when passing through the territorial waters of India, even while making an innocent passage.
In 2019, in a similar Freedom of…