SECNAV Del Toro: United States to be “Equal Partner” with Allied Navies to Maintain Freedom of Global Navigation

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w Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro addresses the International Maritime Power Symposium in Newport, RI, September 15, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

NEWPORT, RI – U.S. Navy leaders pleaded with a global audience of international navies to defend the freedom of international navigation, as China and Russia challenged international maritime standards.

Marines from over 100 countries have gathered in person and virtually for the International Maritime Power Symposium at Naval War College, RI, as Moscow and Beijing have challenged freedom of navigation in recent months.

“The very base of civil society is under attack, especially in the Indo-Pacific. Echoes of Cold War aggression are multiplying in the skies, on the surface and under the seas, ”Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in a speech at the conference.
“Every nation has the right to navigate the sea lanes and the skies in accordance with international law, but no nation has the moral right to deny these rights to its peaceful neighbors. No nation has the right to claim long-standing international waters as its own.

Later in remarks to USNI News, Del Toro said the United States serves as an “equal partner” with other navies in upholding international law.

“It’s not just that America is the leader of these global allied diplomatic partnerships, it’s about that we are an equal partner with all of these nations that are here today,” Del Toro told USNI. News. “We all need to work together, we need to better understand the challenges all of these nations face in their regions. We need to put ourselves in their shoes and understand that the economic challenges they have, the national security challenges they have, and that it is important for all of us to work together… It’s not just about theirs. collaboration with the United States, it is about their collaboration with each other.

The biennial conference, postponed from 2020 due to the global COVID-19 pandemic, comes as China and Russia have lobbied against parts of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea in recent months.

Earlier this month, China released a new set of maritime laws requiring prior notification to Beijing of certain types of ships and goods moving in loosely defined Chinese territorial waters.

The restrictions imposed by the new Beijing rules, an amendment to a 1983 safety law, affect large swathes of the western Pacific and “would illegally restrict the freedom of navigation in southern China, eastern China and the Yellow Sea where China is involved in a number of contested territorial and maritime claims with its neighbors, ”according to a summary of legal implications published by the Naval War College.
“China will use the amended law to engage in gray area operations to intimidate its neighbors and further erode the rule of law at sea in the Indo-Pacific region.”

Russia has also challenged the basic principles of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea. In June, Russian ships and planes harassed the British Royal Navy warship HMS Defender (D36) when he crossed an international transit corridor near Crimea.

Chief of Naval Operations Admiral Mike Gilday told reporters on Wednesday that the United States, particularly in the Indo-Pacific, wanted to isolate nations that deviated from existing maritime laws.

“We all come together and impose these standards that we have all benefited from. It’s day after day to execute these freedom of navigation operations, to navigate side by side with allies and partners. This is what like-minded Marines do, ”Gilday said. “And over time, our hope is that some of these countries that may be trying to define an alternative framework to the international standards that have been set over the past seven plus decades… remain a very isolated group of countries. “

Gilday compared the ISS to the UN in how the assembled group of Marines solved international maritime issues.

“The UN offers a level playing field, and most importantly, for small nations who share these common problems as large navies or large nations, but may also have unusual solutions that large nations may not have. thought, “he told reporters. and refers to the navy concept of 1000 ships of the former NOC Adm. Mike Mullen.
“I think of the Navy of 1000 ships and the power of that. And I say, why not a navy of 10,000 ships? “


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