[Top] [Bottom] [Previous] [Next] [Table of Contents]

Appendix H
FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION

FREEDOM OF NAVIGATION

For 20 years, the U.S. Freedom of Navigation program has ensured that excessive coastal state claims over the world’s oceans and airspace are repeatedly challenged. By diplomatic protests and operational assertions, the United States has insisted upon adherence by the nations of the world to the international law of the sea, as reflected in the UN Law of the Sea Convention. A significant majority of countries (131) are now Parties to the Convention, and there is an encouraging trend toward the rolling–back of excessive maritime claims. Nonetheless, some coastal states continue to assert maritime claims inconsistent with international law, which left unchallenged would limit navigational freedoms vital to U.S. national security and essential to peaceful uses of the world’s oceans.

In FY 1999, U.S. armed forces conducted operational assertions challenging the excessive maritime claims as listed below. In addition, military vessels and aircraft frequently conducted routine transits through international straits, such as the Straits of Gibraltar, Hormuz, and Malacca. Air and surface units also transited the Indonesian Archipelago in archipelagic sea lanes passage on 22 occasions and transited the Philippine Archipelago by exercising high seas freedoms, transit passage, and innocent passage, as applicable, on 34 occasions. Combined with robust and highly visible routine operations by U.S. forces on, over, and under the world’s oceans, and strong United States support for the navigational provisions of the UN Law of the Sea Convention, Freedom of Navigation operations have continued to underscore the U.S. commitment to a stable legal regime for the world’s oceans.

On September 2, 1999, the Secretaries of Commerce and Navy, on behalf of the entire Cabinet, submitted to President Clinton a report entitled Turning to the Sea: America’s Ocean Future. This report sets forth the Cabinet’s collective recommendations for U.S. oceans policy heading into the 21st century, and it includes a specific recommendation to expand the U.S. Freedom of Navigation program to exercise U.S. navigational rights and freedoms in areas of unacceptable maritime claims. Guided by this recommendation, the U.S. armed forces will make even greater efforts to assert U.S. navigation and overflight rights in order to promote both global stability and U.S. national security.

FY 1999 DOD OPERATIONAL ASSERTIONS

Country

Excessive Claims Challenged

Albania

Prior permission for warship to enter the territorial sea

Algeria

Prior permission for warship to enter the territorial sea

Cambodia

Excessive straight baselines; claimed security zone; prior permission for warship to enter the territorial sea and security zone

Djibouti

Prior notification for nuclear–powered vessel to enter the territorial sea

Ecuador

200 nautical mile (nm) territorial sea

Egypt

Prior permission for warship to enter the territorial sea

El Salvador

200nm territorial sea

India

Prior notification for warship to enter the territorial sea; prior permission required for military exercises and maneuvers in exclusive economic zone; Gulf of Manaar as historic waters

Iran

Excessive straight baselines; prior permission for warship to enter the territorial sea

Japan

Excessive straight baselines

Liberia

200nm territorial sea

Malaysia

Prior permission for military exercises in exclusive economic zone

Malta

Prior permission for warship to enter the territorial sea

Nicaragua

200nm territorial sea

Pakistan

Excessive straight baselines; claimed security zone

Philippines

Excessive straight baselines; claims archipelagic waters as internal waters

Romania

Prior permission for warships to enter the territorial sea

Saudi Arabia

Claimed security zone

Seychelles

Prior notification for warship to enter the territorial sea

Sierra Leone

200nm territorial sea

South Korea

Excessive straight baselines

Sri Lanka

Prior permission for warships to enter the territorial sea; Gulf of Manaar as historic waters

Sudan

Claimed security zone

Venezuela

Claimed security zone

Vietnam

Excessive straight baselines; claimed security zone; prior permission for warship to enter the territorial sea and contiguous zone; warship must place weapons in nonoperative positions prior to entering contiguous zone; Gulf of Tonkin as historic waters

Yemen

Prior permission for nuclear–powered warship to enter the territorial sea; claimed security zone

[Top] [Bottom] [Previous] [Next] [Table of Contents]