The United States sailed two warships close to disputed islands in the South China Sea on Monday (Sunday night, ET), a move that is bound to draw the ire of Beijing.

The guided-missile destroyers USS Spruance and USS Preble sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Spratly Islands as part of what the US Navy calls a “freedom of navigation operation.”

The operation was carried out “to challenge excessive maritime claims and preserve access to the waterways as governed by international law,” Cmdr. Clay Doss, a spokesman for the US Navy’s 7th Fleet, told CNN.