0424 GMT October 04, 2022
The US Navy sent its USS Lassen, a guided-missile destroyer, within 12 nautical miles of the island on Tuesday, said a US military official, who spoke on condition of anonymity.
"The operation has begun... It will be complete within a few hours," the official added.
The White House had approved the movement by the USS Lassen, which sailed around Subi Reef in the Spratly Islands archipelago, a disputed group of hundreds of reefs, islets, atolls and islands in the South China, the official noted.
"We will fly, sail and operate anywhere in the world that international law allows," another US military official told CNN.
"US Freedom of Navigation operations are global in scope and executed against a wide range of excessive maritime claims, irrespective of the coastal state advancing the excessive claim," the official added.
The official had already said that the ship would likely be accompanied by a US Navy P-8A surveillance plane and possibly P-3 surveillance plane.
The two planes have been conducting regular surveillance missions in the disputed region.
Earlier on Tuesday before the US confirmed the move, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi issued a warning, saying that "we advise the US side to think twice before action, not to conduct any rash action, and not to create trouble out of nothing."
The second US official also said that additional patrols would be conducted in the coming weeks around features that Vietnam and the Philippines have built up in the Spratly Islands.
"This is something that will be a regular occurrence, not a one-off event," said the official. "It's not something that's unique to China."
China has on different occasions asserted its sovereignty over the sea, with Chinese Vice Admiral Yuan Yubai, commander of the People’s Liberation Army Navy’s (PLAN) North Sea Fleet, insisting back in September that the South China Sea belongs to China.
However, the Philippines, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei and Taiwan also have overlapping claims over the South China Sea.