The US Navy said the action was aimed at defending the rights and freedoms enshrined in international law.
The USS Barry, equipped with cruise missiles, passed near the Paracel Islands in the South China Sea, challenging China’s claims to this area.
The ship carried out the so-called “freedom of navigation operation” a week after Beijing strengthened its claims to the region by creating an official administrative part for the Islands.
The US wanted to defend “the rights, freedoms and lawful use of the sea recognized by international law,” the Navy said in a statement.
“Illegal and large-scale claims in the South China sea pose an unprecedented threat to freedom at sea, including freedom of navigation and flight, as well as the right to the peaceful passage of all ships,” the document notes.