US President Donald Trump may reverse an Obama administration by challenging Chinese claims in the South China Sea with a handful of US Navy destroyers.

A report from the Navy Times cites US Navy officials as saying that ships from the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group, currently headed to the Pacific, will carry out freedom of navigation operations near China’s artificial and militarized islands in the South China Sea.

The operations consist of simply sailing ships within 12 miles of land features in the South China Sea that China claims. The operations, as their name implies, completely observe all international law and exist mainly to assert the right of the US, or any nation, to sail in international waters.

But China will likely not be pleased. In May of 2016, a Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson said that while ships have a right to travel in international waters, military ships are a different matter. Lawrence Brennan, a former US Navy captain and an expert on maritime Law told Business Insider that not only are military freedom of navigation patrols but that the Chinese navy has passed through US territorial waters in the past.


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