The US Naval Command in the southern region announced in statements Tuesday and Wednesday that a US guided missile destroyer sailed near the Venezuelan coast, hours after an Iranian tanker was docked in the port of Caracas.
According to the Southern Command’s official website, the U.S.S. Nitze sailed in an area outside Venezuelan territorial waters, which extends for approximately 12 nautical miles from its coast.
“Today, while peacefully operating in the Caribbean Sea, the U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Nitze (DDG 94) conducted a freedom of navigation operation, contesting an excessive maritime claim by Venezuela,” they said.
The Southern Naval Command indicated that “U.S. Navy ship conducted the operation in international waters outside Venezuela’s 12 nautical-mile territorial jurisdiction.”
“The United States will continue to fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows, preserving the rights, freedoms and lawful use of the sea and airspace guaranteed to all nations,” said Adm. Craig Faller, Commander of U.S. Southern Command.
“These freedoms are the bedrock of ongoing security efforts, and essential to regional peace and stability,” the statement added.
BREAKING: #USSNitze conducts a freedom of navigation operation, contesting an excessive maritime claim by #Venezuela. The @USNavy ship lawfully navigated an area the illegitimate #Maduro regime falsely claims control over. @StateDept @DeptofDefense 1 of 3 https://t.co/mf9Hbfpdhs
— U.S. Southern Command (@Southcom) June 23, 2020
The move comes after President Trump’s decision to send and increase the military presence in the Caribbean, for military and security purposes related to U.S. national security.
On Tuesday, an Iranian oil tanker entered Venezuelan waters to deliver its contents to the South American nation.