April 29 (UPI) -- The guided missile cruiser USS Bunker Hill sailed through the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea Wednesday, according to the the U.S. 7th Fleet.
The transit marks the second U.S. Navy maneuver this week, following the expulsion of the USS Barry from the Paracel Islands by China's military.
According to the Navy, the cruiser transited the region to test "excessive maritime claims" of China, Vietnam and Taiwan -- all of which have overlapping claims in the contested chain of islands.
"Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight and the right of innocent passage of all ships," said a statement from the 7th Fleet.
The transit was one of a series of recent challenges to what the United States considers "unlawful claims" in the South China Sea.
On Wednesday the People's Liberation Army's Southern Theatre Command accused the USS Barry of entering waters around the Paracel Islands without permission and sharply rebuked the move.
The Barry, based in Japan, had transited the Taiwan Strait twice earlier this month, both of which also drew criticism from the Chinese government.
The Barry, the Bunker Hill and the amphibious assault ship USS America had been operating off the coast of Malaysia near an ongoing dispute over mineral exploration near Malaysia and China this month.