China sent military vessels and aircraft in an attempt to expel a U.S. warship asserting international freedom of navigation rights in the Paracel Islands of the disputed South China Sea on Friday.

The U.S. Navy said in a statement that guided-missile destroyer USS Wayne E. Meyer had conducted a "freedom of navigation operation" (FONOP) without requesting permission from Beijing — or from Hanoi or Taipei, which also claim the archipelago.

The FONOP "challenged the restrictions on innocent passage imposed by China, Taiwan, and Vietnam and also contested China's claim to straight baselines enclosing the Paracel Islands," said Cmdr. Reann Mommsen, a spokeswoman for the U.S. Navy's 7th Fleet.