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ABOARD USS CARL VINSON, Philippines – A Navy officer aboard a mammoth U.S. aircraft carrier brimming with F18 fighter jets said American forces will continue to patrol the South China Sea wherever "international law allows us" when asked if China's newly built islands could restrain them in the disputed waters.
Lt. Cmdr. Tim Hawkins told The Associated Press on Saturday aboard the USS Carl Vinson that the U.S. Navy has carried out routine patrols in the strategic waters for 70 years to promote regional security and guarantee the unimpeded flow of trade that's crucial for Asian and U.S. economies.
Hawkins said, "International law allows us to operate here, allows us to fly here, allows us to train here, allows us to sail here, and that's what we're doing and we're going to continue to do that."