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Press Release | Sept. 30, 2020

USS William P. Lawrence Freedom-Of-Navigation Operation Challenges Venezuela’s Excessive Maritime Claim

CARIBBEAN SEA – Today, the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) challenged Venezuela’s excessive maritime claims in international waters during a successful freedom of navigation operation in the Caribbean Sea.

The U.S. Navy previously contested Venezuela’s excessive claims on July 15, when the USS Pinckney (DDG 91) lawfully and peacefully asserted internationally-recognized maritime navigation rights and freedoms during a similar operation in international waters outside of Venezuela’s territorial sea.

The illegitimate Maduro regime improperly claims excessive controls over those international waters, which extend three nautical miles beyond the 12-nautical 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 William P. Lawrence and U.S. Navy and Coast Guard ships are currently operating in the Caribbean as part of the President’s enhanced counter narcotics operation.