Top defense officials including all current and former Chief of Naval Operations support ratification of UNCLOS
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In recent years, many of the most senior U.S. military officers have further articulated the national security benefits of the Convention. The Navy has been one of the strongest supporters of the Convention, with every serving and former Chief of Naval Operations lining up to publicly support U.S. accession.61 In 2004 when the U.S. Senate was actively considering the treaty, the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the worldwide four-star unified combatant commanders, and the Chief and Vice Chief of Naval Operations strongly supported U.S. accession to the Convention.62 These uniformed senior flag and general level officers provided ample testimony to the Senate concerning the broad range of national security interests the Convention directly promoted. The treaty “helps [to] assure access to the largest maneuver space on the planet—the sea—under authority of widely recognized and accepted law and not the threat of force.”63 The United States benefits from the navigational regimes of innocent passage and transit passage through straits and archipelagos, the exercise of high seas freedoms in the EEZ and high seas, as well as the concept of sovereign immunity for warships and other public vessels and public aircraft.64 Also in 2004, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the Convention helps U.S. forces to “operate freely across the vast expanse of the world’s oceans under the authority of widely recognized and accepted international law.”65 Additional testimony in support of the national security benefits of the treaty is included in the 2004 Report of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which voted the treaty out of committee in a bipartisan 19-0 vote.66
Top defense officials, including the current and all former Chiefs of Naval Operations, have lined up to publicly support U.S. accession to UNCLOS. In addition, the Defense Department has repeatedly endorsed ratification in numerous studies and planning documents.