The US Navy’s Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Pinckney (DDG 91) has conducted a freedom of navigation operation (FONOP) in the Caribbean Sea.

It challenged Venezuela’s excessive maritime claim in international waters.

Venezuela is accused of exercising unlawful excessive controls over the international waters that extend three miles beyond the 12-mile territorial sea.

As part of enhanced counter narcotics operation, USS Pinckney and other US Navy and Coast Guard ships are operating in the Caribbean.

US Southern Command commander navy admiral Craig Faller said: “We will exercise our lawful right to freely navigate international waters without acquiescing to unlawful claims.

“The guaranteed right of nations to access, transit and navigate international waters is not subject to impositions or restrictions that blatantly violate international law.”

Last month, the US Navy’s USS Nitze (DDG 94) performed a similar operation outside Venezuela’s 12 nautical-mile territorial sea.

FONOPs worldwide are conducted by the US to preserve the maritime navigation and access rights to all nations.

Another Arleigh Burke-class destroyer, Ralph Johnson, performed FONOP in the South China Sea following its rejection of Beijing’s maritime claims in the international waters.

The destroyer operated in the Spratly Islands.

The navy’s Japan-based US 7th Fleet said in a statement: “As long as some countries continue to claim and assert limits on rights that exceed their authority under international law, the US will continue to defend the rights and freedoms of the sea guaranteed to all.

“No member of the international community should be intimidated or coerced into giving up their rights and freedoms.”