US destroyer and Canadian frigate team up for another Taiwan Strait transit
Stars and Stripes November 2, 2023
TOKYO — A U.S. Navy guided-missile destroyer and a Canadian patrol frigate completed a trip through the Taiwan Strait on Thursday, the second transit there by the two nations’ warships since Sept. 19.
The USS Rafael Peralta and the HMCS Ottawa on Wednesday began their journey northeast through the 110-mile-wide channel that separates mainland China from Taiwan and exited into the East China Sea on Thursday in a trip that was “unremarkable, unprovocative and consistent with international law,” U.S. 7th Fleet spokesman Lt. Luka Bakic told Stars and Stripes by email Thursday.
The journey demonstrated the two countries’ commitment to a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” 7th Fleet said in a news release.
“Cooperation like this represents the centerpiece of our approach to a secure and prosperous region where aircraft and ships of all nations may fly, sail and operate anywhere international law allows,” Bakic said in the release.
The Navy over the past two years has sent warships through the contentious waterway on a near-monthly basis; Navy surveillance aircraft also occasionally fly over the strait.
Beijing, on the other hand, routinely criticizes such actions as provocative. China considers Taiwan, self-governing since it split from China in 1949, a breakaway province that must be reunified with the mainland, by force if necessary.
Wednesday’s joint transit was “publicly hyped,” and the Chinese military organized to monitor the ships’ entire trip, Eastern Theater Command spokesman Col. Shi Yi said in a Thursday post to the command’s Weibo social media account.
All interactions between the U.S. and Canadian ships and foreign vessels or aircraft were “consistent with international norms and did not impact the operation,” Bakic said.
The guided-missile destroyer USS Higgins and patrol frigate HMCS Vancouver made a nearly identical trip on Sept. 19.
That was the first joint operation between U.S. and Canadian warships since 2021, when the USS Dewey and HMCS Winnipeg steamed through the strait.
The Ottawa and Vancouver, along with the Canadian replenishment ship MV Asterix, arrived in the Indo-Pacific in August for a five-month deployment to the region.
“We’re happy to be here, to work with partner nations in order to enhance security in the region,” Vancouver spokeswoman Capt. Veronique Sabourin told Stars and Stripes on Aug. 31, just after the ships arrived at the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force base in Yokosuka. “The Royal Canadian Navy has a proud history of being present in the Indo-Pacific region.”
Canada in November 2022 announced a new Indo-Pacific strategy that included investment of approximately $1.68 billion in economic, environmental and security projects, according to the international development department Global Affairs Canada.
It also promised to increase the number of warships visiting the Indo-Pacific annually, then-National Defence Minister Anita Anand told the Canadian Parliament in November.