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Press Release | July 15, 2020

USS Pinckney freedom-of-navigation operation challenges Venezuela’s excessive maritime claim

CARIBBEAN SEA Today, the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91) challenged Venezuela’s excessive maritime claim in international waters during a successful freedom of navigation operation in the Caribbean Sea.

The U.S. Navy previously contested Venezuela’s excessive claim June 23, when the USS Nitze (DDG 94) lawfully and peacefully completed a similar operation in international waters outside of Venezuela’s 12 nautical-mile territorial sea.

The illegitimate Maduro regime improperly claims excessive controls over those international waters, which extend three miles beyond the 12-mile territorial sea, a claim that is inconsistent with international law.

The U.S. Navy conducts freedom of navigation operations worldwide to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to uphold the rights, freedoms, access and lawful uses of international waters and airspace guaranteed to all nations.

Freedom of navigation operations help preserve the maritime navigation and access rights guaranteed to all nations.

Global access to international waters protects U.S. national interests, promotes a just international order, and ensures the U.S. Navy can accomplish key missions, including humanitarian assistance deployments, disaster relief operations, support to international counter-narcotics efforts, and multinational exercises that strengthen regional partnerships.

USS Pinckney, as well as other U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships, are currently operating in the Caribbean as part of the President’s enhanced counter narcotics operation.

“We will exercise our lawful right to freely navigate international waters without acquiescing to unlawful claims,” said Navy Adm. Craig Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command. “The guaranteed right of nations to access, transit and navigate international waters is not subject to impositions or restrictions that blatantly violate international law.”