The U.S. Navy sent a ship near a contested island in the South China Sea on Saturday to challenge “excessive maritime claims that restrict the rights and freedoms of the United States and others,” a U.S. Defense Department spokesman told CNN. “This operation challenged attempts by the three claimants, China, Taiwan and Vietnam, to restrict navigation rights and freedoms around the features they claim by policies that require prior permission or notification of transit within territorial seas,” Cmdr. Bill Urban said.

“This operation demonstrates, as President Obama and Secretary [Ash] Carter have stated, the United States will fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows. That is true in the South China Sea, as in other places around the globe.” The USS Curtis Wilbur, an Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer, sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Triton Island, part of the Paracel Islands — an archipelago claimed by the three. None of them was notified of the move. FULL REPORT