US, UK navies conduct first drills in waters claimed by China

US, UK navies conduct first drills in waters claimed by China
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The United States and United Kingdom navies on Wednesday completed their first joint drills in the contested South China Sea, which contains waters claimed by China.

The drills, which lasted for six days, marked the first time the U.S. and U.K. have worked together in the region. The U.S. often performs drills in the South China Sea as a show of strength, but British forces have only recently begun to ramp up their efforts in the disputed territory. 

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“There’s no record in recent history of operations together, specifically in the South China Sea,” a U.S. Navy spokesman said, according to Reuters

The U.S. military announced on Wednesday that the guided-missile destroyer USS McCampbell and the Royal Navy frigate HMS Argyll conducted operations in the South China Sea between Jan. 11-16.

"We routinely train with regional allies and partners, but it is a rare opportunity for my team to work with the Royal Navy," Commander Allison Christy said in the release. "Professional engagement with our British counterparts allows us the opportunity to build upon our existing strong relationships and learn from each other."

The joint drills come as the U.S. has asked its international partners to escalate their actions in the South China Sea. China has continued to build island bases in the sea, asserting their right to do so, which the U.S. disputes.

Multiple countries claim territory in the sea.

The U.S. and U.K. conducted communication drills and division tactics during the six days of drills, according to the U.S. military.