The destroyer Lassen will sail near China’s man-made land masses in the Spratly Islands Monday night in a closely watched show of force, according to a defense official.The Lassen is expected to pass within 12 nautical miles of the Chinese-claimed reefs, including Subi Reef and Mischief Reef, where China is suspected of building runways that can accommodate military aircraft in moves that have sparked tensions in the region.Prior to the patrol, a vessel with China’s People’s Liberation Army-Navy shadowed the Lassen. The patrol is a freedom-of-navigation patrol, intended to challenge Chinese claims of sovereignty over the islands, which China is using to bolster its claims to control over nearly all of the South China Sea.
The patrol went off without a hitch last night, though by our lights, it was a couple years late.
I’m given to understand that a US Carrier Strike Group had just pulled out of Singapore after a weekend port call. Which makes sense. Not a huge presence, but some over the horizon support just in case. The Chinese were highly unlikely to be overtly hostile, but good leaders always like to have options.
Twitter was saying last night that the Lassen was shadowed by a PLAN Type 052D Destroyer, which is interesting, as that ship is also a destroyer with a phased array radar and vertical launch missile system. It is, in effect, the Chinese equivalent of a Burke.