WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — US Navy and Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force ships and aircraft started the rescue mission for a sailor stationed on the USS Stethem who reportedly went overboard on Tuesday. By Wednesday, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy ships joined the effort.
“The sailor, whose name is being withheld pending completion of next of kin notifications, was reported missing and assumed overboard Aug. 1, at about 9 a.m.” the release explained.
In July, the Chinese Foreign Ministry voiced protest over US destroyer Stethem sailing close to disputed islands in the South China Sea. According to Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang, the USS Stethem missile destroyer trespassed Chinese territorial waters off the Xisha/Paracel Islands in South China Sea.
The South China Sea area is a disputed region claimed by Brunei, China, Malaysia, Taiwan, the Philippines and Vietnam, as it is believed that it has vast energy resources. Chinese authorities claim 90 percent of the area and have repeatedly said that the country’s activities in the region are China’s sovereign right..