Russian Navy and People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships have been conducting separate, unrelated transits of Japanese straits and sails around Japan over the week, according to Japan’s Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defense releases.
PLAN destroyer CNS Baotou (133) and amphibious assault ship CNS Guangxi (32) were sighted noon Thursday sailing northeast in area 140 km southwest of the Kusagaki islets, which are part of Japan’s Nansei Islands chain that extends in an arc from southwest of the main island of Kyushu towards Taiwan, according to a JSO release.
Two PLAN ships transited the Osumi Strait, which lies between Kyushu and the island of Tanegashima, Thursday to Friday before entering the Philippine Sea, according to the JSO release.
On Thursday afternoon, a Z-9 helicopter launched from Baotou when the ship was 40 km south of the Kusagaki islets, which prompted Japan to scramble fighter jets in reaction to the launch, according to the release.
Earlier that morning, at 9 a.m. Thursday, PLAN frigate CNS Anyang (599) and fleet oiler CNS Chao Hu (890) were sighted sailing northeast in an area 190 km southwest of the uninhabited volcanic island of Yokoate-jima, which is also part of the Nansei Islands chain, according to the release. The two PLAN ships subsequently sailed northeast between Yokoate-jima and the island of Amami Oshima to enter the Philippine Sea.
Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) fast attack craft JS Shirataka (PG-829) monitored the PLAN ships along with a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from Fleet Air Wing 1, based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base on Kyushu, and a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5, based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa.
Russian Navy Russian Navy corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333) and RFS Gromkiy (335) were sighted 8 a.m. Tuesday sailing north in an area 70km southwest of Yonaguni Island, which lies 108km west of the east coast of Taiwan, according to a Friday JSO relase.
The two Russian Navy corvettes then sailed north Tuesday through Thursday between Yonaguni Island and Taiwan before turning back to cruise around the waters 120 km southeast of Ishigaki Island, which lies 411 km southwest of Okinawa. On Friday, they sailed north through the Miyako Strait between Okinawa and Miyako Island to enter the East China Sea.
Destroyer escort JS Jintsu (DE-230) and fleet oiler JS Hamana (AOE-424) monitored the Russian Navy ships, according to the release.
The two Russian ships along with fleet oiler Pechenga have been sighted earlier sailing southwest through the Tsushima Strait on May 12, according to the release. The three ships subsequently sailed southwest between Yonaguni Island and Iriomote Island on May 14 to enter the Philippine Sea.
The two Russian corvettes, both part of the Russian Navy Pacific Fleet, are likely heading home after a deployment of around six weeks in South-East Asian waters, which included participation in the Indonesian Navy’s Multinational Naval Exercise Komodo held in Makassar, Sulawesi, held from June 5-8.
Russian Navy cruiser RFS Varyag (011) and destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543) were sighted 8 a.m. Friday sailing west in an area 50 km northeast of Cape Soya on the main island of Hokkaido, according to a release from the JSO. The ships subsequently sailed west into the Sea of Japan through La Perouse Strait, which separates Hokkaido from the Russian island of Sakhalin. Fast attack craft JS Wakataka (PG-825) shadowed the Russian ships, according to the release.
Earlier on Thursday, the JSO issued a release stating that PLAN Dongdiao-class surveillance ship Yuhengxing (798) was sighted sailing east 1 p.m. Wednesday in an area 120 east of Kuchinoerabu Island, which lies 130km south of the main island of Kyushu. The PLAN ship subsequently sailed east through the Osumi Strait to enter the Philippine Sea. Fast attack craft Shirataka monitored the PLAN ship, according to the release.