The United States (US) Navy’s 7th fleet conducted “Freedom of Navigation Operation” (FNOP) in India’s Exclusive Economic Zone (EEZ) near Lakshadweep islands on April 7, 2021. The statement from the 7th fleet said that the US conducted FNOP to assert international law by “challenging India’s excessive maritime claims.”
On April 7, the USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) entered 130 nautical miles west of the Lakshadweep Islands, inside India’s exclusive economic zone. The press statement from the 7th fleet said that it entered India’s EEZ “without requesting India’s prior consent, consistent with international law.”
The statement further read, “US Forces operate in the Indo-Pacific region on a daily basis. All operations are designed in accordance with international law and demonstrate that the United States will fly, sail and operate wherever international law allows.”
However, India’s Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) in a statement released on April 9 said that United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea Convention (UNCLOS) does not authorise other countries to carry out military exercises or manoeuvres, in particular those involving the use of weapons or explosives “without the consent of the coastal state” in another country’s EEZ and continental shelf.
The US is not a signatory to the UNCLOS.
MEA also said that the USS John Paul Jones was “transiting” from the Persian Gulf towards the Malacca Straits.
A 2014 clip released by the US Navy on its official youtube channel said that USS John Paul is a guided missile destroyer.
The Government of India has conveyed India’s concerns to the US government regarding passage of USS John Paul through India’s EEZ through diplomatic channels.