Date
18 January 2017
Admiral Scott Swift says his surveillance flight allowed him to see first-hand new operational capabilities of the US Pacific Fleet. Photo: AP
Admiral Scott Swift says his surveillance flight allowed him to see first-hand new operational capabilities of the US Pacific Fleet. Photo: AP

US admiral flew surveillance mission over South China Sea

A top US Navy admiral said he joined a surveillance flight over the disputed South China Sea on Saturday but gave no specific details.

Admiral Scott Swift, commander of the US Pacific Fleet, confirmed to reporters in Seoul he was on the seven-hour flight of a Boeing P-8 surveillance plane, according to Reuters.

At the same time, Swift said the US is committed to freedom of navigation in the region.

A similar mission carrying a CNN crew flew over the disputed waters in May which China called “irresponsible and dangerous”.  

Swift described his flight as routine and did not did not say if China responded to it.

“We have forces deployed throughout the region to demonstrate the US commitment to freedom of navigation,” Swift said.

He said the flight allowed him to see “first-hand” new operational capabilities of the US Pacific Fleet.

Swift said communications with China at sea were “positive and structured”, calling them “normalised”.

China has almost finished building a 3,000-meter-long airstrip on one of its artificial islands in the disputed Spratly archipelago of the South China Sea, according to satellite imagery of the area.

Beijing claims most of the South China Sea, with the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia and others holding overlapping claims.

Washington has demanded China halt land reclamation and militarization of the disputed area and to pursue a peaceful resolution according to international law.

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