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The Arleigh Burke-class, guided-missile destroyer USS Stethem (DDG 63) is “conducting routine operations” in the South China Sea, according to a Friday press release from the US Navy.
The statement went on to note that the guided-missile destroyer had been refueled at sea by Her Majesty’s New Zealand Ship (HMNZS) Endeavour (A 11).
The refueling allowed the vessel to remain mission ready, according to Command Senior Chief William Palmer IV.
“Conducting these types of operations with our allies builds proficiency and sustains our ability to maintain a persistent presence throughout the 7th Fleet area of operations,” Palmer said.
The release stated that the US vessel has regularly communicated with Chinese naval vessels during its operations, stating that countries use the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) to “communicate navigational intentions to ensure safe maneuvering.”
Fire Controlman Senior Chief Robert Kline, a tactical actions officer, said working with foreign navies increases the responsiveness and effectiveness of his crew.
“As forward deployed naval forces, you are constantly operating around ships from other navies,” Kline said, adding “this provides vital operational experience that increases our proficiency in mission critical areas.”