USS Mustin (DDG 89) conducts routine operations in the South China Sea, Aug. 27. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Cody Beam)

PEARL HARBOR, Hawaii - The guided-missile destroyer USS Mustin (DDG 89) conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the South China Sea, Aug. 27.

The U.S. Navy conducts freedom of navigation operations, or FONOPs, to contest excessive maritime claims and reinforce laws of the sea in international waters. USS Mustin, based in Yokosuka, Japan, conducted the FONOP in the vicinity of the Paracel Islands to ensure critical shipping lanes in the area remain free and open.

More than $5 trillion in international trade transits the South China Sea each year. Ships assigned to the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet routinely conduct FONOPs in the region to refute illegal claims to international waters and limitations of freedom of navigation, and USS Mustin’s operation demonstrates the U.S. commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific.

Commander, U.S. 7th Fleet conducts forward-deployed naval operations in support of U.S. national interests in the Indo-Pacific area of operations. As the U.S. Navy’s largest numbered fleet, 7th Fleet coordinates with 35 maritime nations in the region to build relationships, foster maritime security, promote stability, and prevent conflict.

Seaman Zachary Douglas looks through binoculars on the bridge wing as USS Mustin (DDG 89) operates in the South China Sea, Aug. 27. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Cody Beam)

Boatswain’s Mate 3rd Class Reshawn Wallace mans the helm on the bridge as USS Mustin (DDG 89) operates in the South China Sea, Aug. 27. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Cody Beam)

Fire Controlman (Aegis) 2nd Class Bryce Umphfreys stands missile systems supervisor watch in the combat information center as USS Mustin (DDG 89) operates in the South China Sea, Aug. 27. (U.S. Navy/MC3 Cody Beam)