Water Wars: Known Unknowns in the South China Sea


Chris Mirasola


Law Welfare


May 13, 2016


The USS William Lawrence conducted a Freedom of Navigation Operation (FONOP) within 12 nautical miles of Fiery Cross Reef on Tuesday, May 10th. Chinese-controlled Fiery Cross Reef is home to a 10,000-foot runway and substantial military and civilian infrastructure. Last month, Chinese military aircraft landed at Fiery Cross Reef and General Fan Chanlong, vice-chairman of the Chinese Central Military Commission, visited the reef’s facilities. China responded to this week’s FONOP by scrambling two fighter jets and directing three warships to tail the USS Lawrence. This is the third FONOP conducted by the US Navy in the South China Sea since consistent exercises began in 2015.