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The USS Lassen's October 2015 South China Sea freedom of navigation operation was exemplary in some respects and cautionary in others. This article argues the Lassen's mission to sail within 12 nautical miles of one of China's artificial islands was a successful albeit exploratory challenge because the operation has helped to clarify maritime claims in the region and garnered international support for continued operations. This paper examines the US Freedom of Navigation Program's broader goalsdoi:10.14330/jeail.2016.9.1.07 fatcat:d5tmnrfhprde5nfbjcovzuhbmy