U.S. Navy Sends a Destroyer Through the Taiwan Strait

March 3, 2022 Topic: Taiwan Region: Asia Blog Brand: The Buzz Tags: Indo-PacificU.S. NavyTaiwanArleigh Burke-classTaiwan Strait

U.S. Navy Sends a Destroyer Through the Taiwan Strait

The move affirms the United States’ commitment to Taiwan and the Indo-Pacific.


While the United States and the world may be paying close attention to Ukraine and Russia, the U.S. Navy just sent a destroyer through the Taiwan Strait, the narrow body of water separating Taiwan from China. Although Ukraine is a very high priority at the moment, the move shows that there are still eyes on the Indo-Pacific, a region that will remain very important for the United States in the years and decades to come.

“The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Ralph Johnson (DDG 114) is conducting a routine Taiwan Strait transit Feb. 26 … through international waters in accordance with international law,” the U.S. Navy said in a statement.


“The ship is transiting through a corridor in the Strait that is beyond the territorial sea of any coastal State,” the release added. “The ship’s transit through the Taiwan Strait demonstrates the United States’ commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific. The United States military flies, sails, and operates anywhere international law allows.”

A spokesman for the People's Liberation Army called the action provocative and “hypocritical and futile.”

The USS Ralph Johnson, an Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer, performed the recent Freedom of Navigation Operation. Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyers, one of the U.S. Navy’s most prolific post-World War II builds, have been steadily upgraded throughout the years.

Since their introduction in the early 1990s, the ships have been built in three main variants. These improvements have increased the ship’s processing capabilities, fuel efficiency, weaponry, and anti-submarine helicopter hangars. The ships have a range greater than 8,000 kilometers and can sail in excess of twenty knots per hour.

Ukraine’s ongoing battle against Russian forces has diverted a considerable amount of airtime and ink to the issue, leaving some China analysts nervous. However, some have stressed that with an economy roughly the size of Italy’s, Russia’s importance should not be overestimated, particularly as it faces devastating new sanctions. Despite the importance of Russia to the United States today, the importance of China will not go away anytime soon.

Caleb Larson is a multimedia journalist and defense writer with the National Interest. A graduate of UCLA, he also holds a Master of Public Policy and lives in Berlin. He covers the intersection of conflict, security, and technology, focusing on American foreign policy, European security, and German society for both print and radio. Follow him on Twitter @calebmlarson.

Image: Reuters.