Chinese, Russian Warships Continue to Circle Japan, Defense Minister Says

An uptick in Russian and Chinese warship movements near Japan are a part of an ongoing military demonstration toward Tokyo, Japan’s Defense Minister Nobou Kishi said this week. The People’s Liberation Army Navy and the Russian Pacific fleet have, since mid-June, sent two separate surface action groups around the Japanese home islands. “The fact that […]

Chinese ships operating near Japan on June 24, 2022. Japanese MoD Image

An uptick in Russian and Chinese warship movements near Japan are a part of an ongoing military demonstration toward Tokyo, Japan’s Defense Minister Nobou Kishi said this week.

The People’s Liberation Army Navy and the Russian Pacific fleet have, since mid-June, sent two separate surface action groups around the Japanese home islands.

“The fact that about 10 Russian and Chinese ships sail around Japan on the same route in a short period of time is a display of the military presence of both countries around Japan,” Kishi said.

Seven Russian warships sailed near Hokkaido toward the Izu Islands on June 15. Five of the ships sailed in the waters between Okinawa and Miyakojima toward the East China Sea on June 21. The group sailed through the Tsushima Strait toward the Sea of ​​Japan, almost making a circle of the Japanese archipelago, he said.

On June 12, four Chinese ships sailed through the Tsushima Strait toward the Sea of ​​Japan, two of which sailed through the Tsugaru Strait and the other two through La Pérouse Strait to the Pacific Ocean. Three of these ships have been operating near around the Izu Islands, similar to the movement of the Russian ships, and were moving around the Japanese archipelago,

“The Ministry of Defense will continue to pay close attention to the trends of the Russian Navy and the Chinese Navy in the waters around Japan, and will make every possible effort to carry out warning and surveillance activities in the sea and airspace around Japan,” Kishi said.

In a response to a media questions as to whether the surveillance activities of the Russian and Chinese activities around Japan would involve the U.S., Kishi replied that the surveillance was a Japan Self Defense Force task.

Russian warships operating near Japan. Japanese MoD

The movement of the Russian and Chinese ships have all been posted on in recent releases by the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

On Tuesday, the JSO issued a release stating that five Russian ships had been sighted at 7 a.m. that day and sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait into the Sea of Japan.

Hull numbers and images provided corresponded to destroyer RFS Admiral Panteleyev (548), Corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333), RFS Gromkiy (335), Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339) and the missile range instrumentation ship Marshal Krylov. The release included a map showing the earlier movements of the Russian ships around Japan in which destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543) and corvette RFS Gremyashchiy (337) formed part of the group in those movements.

All the ships belonged to the Russian Pacific Fleet, which has been conducting a large scale exercise since June 3. The release stated that the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Amagiri (DD-154) and the fast attack craft JS Otaka (PG-826) monitored the Russian ships.

Marshal Shaposhnikov, Gremyashchiy and the tanker Pechanga, which had earlier replenished the seven Russian surface ship group operating around Japan made a port visit to Manila, Philippines, from Tuesday to Wednesday, according to a social media post by the Russian Embassy in the Philippines.

As of Friday afternoon, Japan has not reported any sightings of the three ships in the East China Sea since their departure from the Philippines, indicating the ships are either operating in the Philippine Sea or the South China Sea.

Chinese ships and aircraft have been also been heavily operating around Japan.

Two People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) destroyers and a replenishment ship were sighted sailing west between Smith Island and Torishima in the Izu Islands, according to a Japanese release Tuesday. Hull numbers and images provided identified the ships as destroyers CNS Lhasa (102) and CNS Chengdu (120) and replenishment ship CNS Dongpinghu (902).

These were the same ships cited in previous JSO releases and included a map showing their movements since the first sighting on 12 June, according to the Tuesday release. The release also stated that the JMSDF destroyer JS Makinami (DD-112) was monitoring the PLAN ships.

Russian ships operating near Japan from June 15 to June 21. Japanese MoD Image

On Wednesday, a JSO release stated that a PLAN corvette had been sighted at 9 a.m., sailing south in the waters about 220 km north of Yonaguni Island, and later on that day, at 11p.m., a PLAN destroyer was sighted sailing south in around 210 km north of Yonaguni Island. Both ships subsequently made separate passages between Yonaguni Island and Taiwan to sail towards the Pacific Ocean.

Hull numbers and images provided identified the ships as destroyer CNS Xi’an (153) and corvette CNS Xiaogan (615).

The release stated that the destroyer JS Abukuma (DE-229) and a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at Kanoya Air Field, Kyushu, conducted surveillance of the PLAN ships.

A second release on Wednesday stated that on 2 .m. Tuesday, a PLAN destroyer and two frigates were sighted sailing southeast in area approximately 280 km northwest of Kume Island, Okinawa Prefecture and, subsequently, sailed through the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean.

Hull numbers and images provided correspond to destroyer CNS Taiyuan (131) and frigates CNS Zhoushan (529) and CNS Anyang (599).

The release also stated that a PLAN destroyer was sighted sailing southeast in the area around 160 km northeast of Miyako Island and subsequently transited the Miyako Strait to sail into the Pacific Ocean around 6 a.m. Wednesday. Hull number and image provided correspond to the destroyer CNS Zibo (156). The release stated that the replenishment ship JS Tokiwa (AOE-423), minesweeper JS Shishijima (MSC-691) and JMSDF P-3C Orion MPAs of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, monitored the PLAN ships.

On Friday, the JSO issued a release stating that Xi’an was sighted at 6 a.m. 70 km southwest of Yonaguni Island before the ship sailed north in the area between Yonaguni Island and Taiwan and sailed towards the East China Sea. The release stated the PLAN ship was monitored by Tokiwa.

A second release on Friday stated that a Dongdiao class surveillance ship with the hull number 795 had been sighted sailing northwest at an area 150 km east of Miyako Island around 9 p.m. Thursday, and, at the same time, Taiyuan and Zhoushan had been sighted sailing northward in an area about 130km south of Miyako Island.

This was followed by a 10 p.m. sighting in an area about 130km south of Miyako Island of Anyang sailing northeast and of Zibo sailing north in an area about 200km southeast of Miyako Island. Subsequently all the PLAN ships sailed northwest in the Miyako Strait and entered the East China Sea. Destroyer JS Asahi (DD-119) along with Shishijima and a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5 monitored the PLAN ships.

Chinese aircraft have also been active around Japan as on Thursday the JSO issued a release stating that three People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) H-6 bombers flew in from the East China Sea in the afternoon that day, flying through the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean where the bombers conducted separate circuits before joining together again to fly through the Miyako Strait and back into the East China Sea. Images in the release showed that two of the H-6s were carrying YJ-12 anti-ship cruise missiles.

The release stated that the Japan Air Self-Defense Force’s (JASDF) Southwestern Air Defense Force’s fighter aircraft was scrambled and monitored the PLAAF planes.

On Friday, the JSO issued a release stating that on that morning a Chinese Y-9 electronic intelligence aircraft flew from the East China Sea and through the Miyako Strait to enter the Pacific Ocean and then made two turns before passing through the Miyako Strait to enter the East China Sea. JASDF fighter aircraft were scrambled and monitored the Chinese plane, stated the release.

Chinese H-6 spotted south of Okinawa. Japanese MoD

In other developments, the Royal Australian navy wrapped up exercise Sea Explorer 2022 on June 16, according to Defence Department release on Monday. The exercise was for the Australian Amphibious Force (AAF) to verify its capability to deploy as an integrated force and involved the landing helicopter dock HMAS Adelaide (L01) with ground and aviation units of the Australian Army. Also participating was the U.S landing Ship dock USS Ashland (LSD-48).

Capt. Phillipa Hay, commander of the Australian Amphibious Task Force, said in the release that Sea Explorer 2022 was also enriched by the presence of the United States Navy’s Japan-based USS Ashland, with AAF forces embarked on it.

“USS Ashland is one of our nearest and closest coalition partners. Together, we have demonstrated our ability to interchange and operate as a cohesive force to develop and deliver an amphibious effect,” Hay said.

“The AAF is now certified to deploy on Indo-Pacific Endeavour, Defence’s premier deployment into the region and beyond, where we will be enhancing our interoperability and relationships with key partners and friends in the region.”

Indo-Pacific Endeavour is the Australian Defence Force’s annual presence and partnership deployment spearheaded by one of its Canberra-class LHDs to the Indo-Pacific region. On odd number years the deployment focuses on Southeast and Northeast Asia while even number years focus upon the Pacific Islands. No date has been released yet for the deployment but it is expected to be a key part of the new Australian government’s goal of strengthening Australia’s partnership with the Pacific islands and rolling back China’s influence there.

Meanwhile, Adelaide’s sister ship, HMAS Canberra (L02), accompanied by frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) is inbound to Hawaii for the RIMPAC 2022 exercise, having conducted a replenishment at sea with USNS Yukon (T-AO-202).

 

Chinese, Russian Warships Active Near Japan Ahead of RIMPAC 2022

Russian warships are now steaming in the East China and the Philippine seas near Japan, the Russian Navy and the Japan Defense Ministry announced on Monday. Meanwhile, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) drilled with the U.S. Navy while ships from five Indo-Pacific nations sailed together out of Guam en […]

Chinese ships on June 17, 2022. JMSDF Photos

Russian warships are now steaming in the East China and the Philippine seas near Japan, the Russian Navy and the Japan Defense Ministry announced on Monday.

Meanwhile, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) drilled with the U.S. Navy while ships from five Indo-Pacific nations sailed together out of Guam en route to the Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC2022) exercise in Hawaii.

The Russian Navy said destroyers RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543) and RFS Admiral Panteleyev (548) and the missile range instrumentation ship RFS Marshal Krylov were underway with accompanying corvettes had operated replenishment ship Pechenga in the Philippine Sea. The release added that the ships practiced joint maneuvering in the region with air defense, submarine search and cooperation with the aircraft of the Pacific Fleet. Earlier on Friday, the Russians said a detachment of the Russian Pacific Fleet had entered the Philippine Sea and was engaging in anti-aircraft training as well as searching for mock enemy submarines.

The movements of Russian, as well as Chinese warships around Japan, have been observed by the Japanese Ministry of Defense, with the Ministry’s Joint Staff Office issuing releases. On Friday, the JSO issued a release stating the sighting of five Russian ships comprising of a destroyer and four corvettes on Thursday in the vicinity of the Izu Islands, with the ships subsequently sailing southwest between Smith Island and Torishima. Subsequently, on Friday, a Russian Navy destroyer together with Marshal Krylov was seen at in the same area moving southwest.

Hull numbers and images provided in the release identified the ships as Marshal Shaposhnikov and Admiral Panteleyev, corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333), RFS Gromkiy (335), RFS Gremyashchiy (337) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339) and Marshal Krylov. The release also stated that destroyers JS Kongo (DDG-173) and JS Teruzuki (DD-116) along with JMSDF P-1s Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi monitored the Russian ships.

On Sunday, the JSO issued a release stating that five Russian ships were observed around Okinawa and sailed northwest through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea. Hull numbers and images provided corresponded to Admiral Panteleyev, Sovershennyy, Gromkiy, Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov and Marshal Krylov. Teruzuki and replenishment ship JS Tokiwa (AOE-423) together with a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base monitored the Russian ships.

A second group of nine Russian ships were spotted on Friday, 25 miles north of Cape Soya, Hokkaido stated a JSO release that day. Hull numbers and images provided in the released identified the ships as corvettes RFS Koryeyets (390), RFS R-29 (916), RFS R-20 (920), RFS R-24 (946), RFS R-298 (971), RFS R-19 (978) and RFS R-261 (991), an Altay class replenishment ship and the hospital ship Irtysh. The ships then sailed west through La Pérouse Strait into the Sea of Japan. Fast attack craft JS Wakataka (PG-825) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion of Fleet Air Wing 2 based at JMSDF Hachinohe Air Base monitored the Russian ships.

On Sunday, three People’s Liberation Army Navy ships were sighted sailing south in the sea area about 137 miles east of Mt. Jinhua, Miyagi Prefecture, hull numbers and images provided identified the ships as destroyers CNS Lhasa (102) and CNS Chengdu (120) and replenishment ship CNS Dongpinghu (902), according to Japanese officials. The PLAN ships were monitored by the destroyer JS Makinami (DD-112), the release also included details of the PLAN ships’ movement since their sighting on June 12 in the Tsushima Strait and the movement of a Dongdiao class surveillance ship with hull number 794 which has been on and off sailing in the vicinity of the group. Dongpinghu and Dongdiao 794 had sailed together through the Tsugaru Strait on An earlier JSO release on Friday stated that Lhasa and Chengdu were sighted on Thursday at noon sailing northeast in an area 230 km southwest of Rebun Island, Hokkaido and subsequently sailed east through La Pérouse Strait. The release stated that Wakataka and a JMSDF P-3C Orion of Fleet Air Wing 2 monitored the PLAN ships.

Meanwhile the JMSDF’s IPD22 deployment conducted its first engagement with JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110) having carried out an exercise with destroyer USS Sampson (DDG-102) and replenishment ship USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) in the Pacific Ocean from Friday to Sunday. IPD has been an annual deployment by the JMSDF since 2019 and IPD 2022 will involve two surface units, one comprising of Izumo and Takanami while a second surface unit comprises of the destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104). An unnamed submarine will also be deployed.

In other developments, a multi-national sail exercise was held from Thursday to Saturday by ships of five Indo-Pacific navies who are sailing towards Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC 2022) exercise, set to be held in Hawaii from June 29 until August 4. The ships in the joint sail were the Indian Navy frigate INS Satpura (F48), Philippine Navy frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151), Indonesian Navy frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332), Republic of Singapore Navy frigate RSS Intrepid (69) and Royal Malaysian Navy corvette KD Lekir (FSG26).

Korean Trucker Strike Cripples Port Of Busan

By Heejin Kim and Ann Koh (Bloomberg) An escalating strike by truck drivers in South Korea is adding more disruption to global supply chains, from a slowdown at the country’s ports…

By Heejin Kim and Ann Koh (Bloomberg) An escalating strike by truck drivers in South Korea is adding more disruption to global supply chains, from a slowdown at the country’s ports...

Chinese, Russian Warships Continue to Exercise Near Japan

A Chinese surface group sailed past Japanese islands to enter the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday while a PLAN surveillance ship sailed through the Miyako Strait on Thursday to enter the Pacific Ocean according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense. On Wednesday the Joint Staff Office (JSO) issued a released stating that at 9 a.m. on […]

Chinese Dongdiao-class surveillance ship, hull number 795

A Chinese surface group sailed past Japanese islands to enter the Pacific Ocean on Wednesday while a PLAN surveillance ship sailed through the Miyako Strait on Thursday to enter the Pacific Ocean according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense.

On Wednesday the Joint Staff Office (JSO) issued a released stating that at 9 a.m. on the same day, the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force sighted a People’s Liberation Army Navy Luyang III destroyer and a Jiangkai II frigate sailing southeast in an area around 75 miles northwest of Amami Oshima Island. The two ships were joined by a Yuzhao class Landing Platform Dock and a Fuchi class replenishment ship and the four ships sailed east between Amami Oshima Island and Yokoate Island into the Pacific Ocean. Hull numbers provided in the release correspond to destroyer CNS Xiamen (154), frigate CNS Binzhou (515), LPD CNS Siming Shan (986) while the hull number for the Fuichi class (904) does not correspond to any of the ships in the class but the PLAN has been renumbering several of its auxiliary and support ships.

The PLAN surface group was monitored by the JMSDF replenishment ship JS Mashu (AOE-425) and a JMSDF P-1 maritime patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Field, Kagoshima, stated the release.

On Friday, the JSO issued a release that on Thursday at 9 p.m., a PLAN Dongdiao-class surveillance ship, hull number 795 was sighted traveling southward in an area 130 km northwest of Kume Island. The ship then sailed southeast between Okinawa and Miyako Island into the Pacific Ocean. The release added that the JMSDF destroyer JS Setogiri (DD-156) and minesweeper JS Kuroshima (MSC-692) along with a JMSDF P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa monitored the PLAN surveillance ship.

Russia’s Defence Ministry in a release on Friday announced that the Russian Pacific Fleet has begun exercises in the Pacific Ocean. The exercises involve over 40 warships and support vessels, as well as 20 planes and helicopters and will end on June 10 10, in accordance with the Pacific Fleet’s 2022 training schedule stated the release. The Defence Ministry also added in the release that the exercise would involve task groups together with naval aviation units detecting notional enemy submarines, training in air defense of ship groups along with conducting combat and training exercise involving surface and aerial targets. The exercises will also involve training in technical and logistical support of at sea units.

In other developments, the amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) departed Commander, Fleet Activities Yokosuka (CFAY) on Friday, following a scheduled port visit to CFAY that began on Sunday. Tripoli departed Naval Station San Diego, California, on an independent deployment to the Western Pacific on May 2. Over in Hawaii, fast attack submarine USS Charlotte (SSN-766) departed Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for a regularly scheduled underway on Thursday.

Chinese, Russian Bombers Hold Joint Exercises Near Japan, Korea

Four Chinese H-6 bombers and two Russian Tu-95 bombers conducted joint flights together on Tuesday around Japan and the Republic of Korea, prompting both countries to scramble fighter aircraft to monitor the flights. The joint flights took place the same day U.S. President Joe Biden was meeting his Australian, Indian and Japanese Quad grouping counterparts […]

Route of Russian and Chinese bombers during an exercise near Japan and South Korea. Japanese MoD Photo

Four Chinese H-6 bombers and two Russian Tu-95 bombers conducted joint flights together on Tuesday around Japan and the Republic of Korea, prompting both countries to scramble fighter aircraft to monitor the flights. The joint flights took place the same day U.S. President Joe Biden was meeting his Australian, Indian and Japanese Quad grouping counterparts in Tokyo, though both the Russian and Chinese defense ministries stated that the flights were part of their annual military cooperation plan and not directed towards anyone.

Japan Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, in a press conference on Tuesday, stated that the flight was provocative and that Japan had registered its concerns via diplomatic channels. Kishi also stated that as the international community responds to Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, China’s continuing joint military activities with Russia could not be overlooked, adding that this also showed that the security environment around Japan was becoming more tense. Kishi noted that this was the fourth joint flight since 2019 and the first since last November.

The Joint Staff Office (JSO) of Japan’s Defense Ministry issued a release on Tuesday stating that from morning to afternoon that day two Chinese H-6 bombers flew from the East China Sea to the Sea of Japan, joining two Russian Tu-95 bombers there. The four aircraft flew together to the East China Sea. Two other Chinese H-6 bombers replaced the two flying in formation with the Russian planes. The formation then flew through the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean and later returned the same way. The JSO also said a Russian IL-20 surveillance aircraft flew from morning until afternoon the same day over the Sea of Japan from Rebun Island in Hokkaido to Noto Peninsula, Honshu and that for all the flights Japan Air Self Defense Force fighter aircraft were scrambled to conduct surveillance.

A Chinese H-6 bomber flying over the East China Sea. Japanese MoD Photo

The ROK’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) issued a text message to journalists stating that two Chinese and four Russian warplanes entered the Korean Air Defense Identification Zone (KADIZ), but did not violate South Korea’s territorial airspace, reported Yonhap News Agency on Tuesday. Yonhap also quoted the JCS saying, “Prior to their entry into the KADIZ, our military deployed Air Force fighters to conduct tactical steps in preparation against potential accidental situations,” and that at 7:56 a.m., two Chinese H-6 bombers entered the KADIZ from an area 126 kilometers northwest of Ieodo, a submerged rock south of the southern island of Jeju. The planes moved toward the East Sea (Korea’s name for the Sea of Japan) and exited the zone at around 9:33 a.m. Later, the two Chinese planes joined four Russian planes, including two Tu-95 bombers, and entered the KADIZ together at 9:58 a.m. They then left the zone at 10:15 a.m. At around 3:40 p.m., four Chinese and two Russian military aircraft were spotted flying in an area some 267 km southeast of Ieodo which lay outside the KADIZ.

Although the JCS did say what the two other Russian planes were, Russia’s defense ministry said in a press release Tuesday that Russian Su-30SM fighters provided support for the air task force during the joint air patrol.

“The Russian Aerospace Force and the Air Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army conducted a joint air patrol in the Asia-Pacific region,” Russia’s media statement said. “The air task force composed of Tu-95MS strategic missile-carrying bombers of the Russian Aerospace Force and Hong-6K strategic bombers of the Air Force of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army conducted a joint air patrol over the waters of the Sea of Japan and the East China Sea. …In the process of accomplishing their tasks, the aircraft of both countries operated strictly in compliance with the provisions of international law. There were no violations of the airspace of foreign states.”

The Russian MOD release also stated that the joint air patrol by the Russian and Chinese strategic bombers was conducted under the 2022 plan of military cooperation and was not aimed against third countries, adding that the flights lasted 13 hours. During some stages of the flights, the release said, the bombers were escorted by fighter jets of the Republic of Korea Air Force (ROKAF) and JASDF.

The Chinese Ministry of National Defense on Tuesday issued a brief statement stating, “According to the annual military cooperation plan between the Chinese and Russian militaries, on May 24, the air forces of the two countries organized routine joint air strategic patrols over the Sea of ​​Japan, the East China Sea and the Western Pacific Ocean”. On Wednesday, Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for the Ministry of National Defense of China, stated that “On May 24, the air forces of China and Russia carried out a routine joint air strategic cruise in 2022. This is the fourth strategic cruise jointly implemented by the air forces of the two countries since 2019. The purpose is to test and improve the level of cooperation between the air forces of the two countries and promote strategic mutual trust and practical cooperation between the two militaries. This action is not aimed at a third party and has nothing to do with the current international and regional situation”.

A Russian Tupolev Tu-95 Bear off Japan. Japanese MoD Photo

Earlier on Monday, the JSO issued two releases on the movements of People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships around Japan, the first release stated that on 1 p.m. on Sunday, a PLAN Type 054A frigate was sighted traveling southeast about 260 km west of Fukue Island. On Monday at 7 a.m. a second Type 054A was sighted moving northeast about 120 km southwest of Tsushima. The two ships then proceeded northeast through the Tsushima Strait and sailed toward the Sea of Japan. Images and pennant numbers provided in the release identified the PLAN frigates as CNS Xuzhou (530) and CNS Handan (579). The release stated that the Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) fast attack craft JS Otaka (PG-826) and minesweeper JS Ukushima (MSC-686) along with a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi monitored the ships.

The second release stated that at around 10 a.m. on Monday, May 23, a PLAN Sovremenny-class destroyer was seen 80 km northwest of Kume Island.he ship proceeded southeast through the Miyako Strait and sailed toward the Pacific Ocean. The pennant number provided identified the ship as CNS Hangzhou (136). A JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base monitored the PLAN ship.

On Wednesday the JSO issued two releases stating that all three ships had returned to the East China Sea. The first release stated that a PLAN Type 054A frigate was sighted around 4 p.m. on Tuesday traveling southwest about 120 km northeast of Tsushima (Nagasaki Prefecture), and on the same day, at around 7 p.m., another Type 054A frigate was sighted going southwest at 90 km northwest of the Oki Islands. The release stated that the two frigates sailed southwest through the Tsushima Strait into the East China Sea. Otaka, Ukushima and minesweeper JS Sugashima (MSC-681), along with a JMSDF P-1 maritime patrol aircraft, monitored the ships. The second release stated that at 1 a.m. on Wednesday a PLAN Sovremenny class destroyer was sighted traveling northwest in the waters about 130 km east of Miyako island and subsequently sailed northwest through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea. The releases stated that the frigates and destroyer were the same ships cited in Monday’s release and that the ship was monitored by the support ship JS Amakusa (AMS-4303) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion.

North Korea Is Suspected Of Launching Submarine Missile

By Max Zimmerman and Kyungji Cho May 7, 2022, (Bloomberg) –North Korea appeared to have fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile Saturday, three days after launching what may have been a medium-range…

By Max Zimmerman and Kyungji Cho May 7, 2022, (Bloomberg) –North Korea appeared to have fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile Saturday, three days after launching what may have been a medium-range...

South Korea, U.S. Bond To Tighten Following Recent Election Says U.S. Commander

The top commander in Korea saw encouraging signs for the with U.S. alliance with the election of conservative candidate Yoon Suk-yeol as the nation’s president in the most hotly contested race in Seoul’s history as a democracy. “It seems very promising,” Army Gen. Paul LaCamera said when asked if he expected any changes to the […]

U.S. Marine Corps Maj. Gen. Jay M. Bargeron, left, 3d Marine Division commanding general, salutes Lt. Gen. Kim Tae-sung, right, Commandant of the Republic of Korea Marine Corps during a visit to Marine Corps Base Hawaii, Mar. 1, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

The top commander in Korea saw encouraging signs for the with U.S. alliance with the election of conservative candidate Yoon Suk-yeol as the nation’s president in the most hotly contested race in Seoul’s history as a democracy.

“It seems very promising,” Army Gen. Paul LaCamera said when asked if he expected any changes to the U.S.-South Korea relationship under the new South Korean government. “We’ll have to figure out, see what it looks like in execution.”

“Yoon talks about security as his top priority,” he added.

Testifying before the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, LaCamera said, “we’ll reach out to his transition team” now as Yoon, Korea’s former top prosecutor, prepares to take over as president in May.

“We look forward to working with his administration to strengthen the U.S.-ROK alliance and take on regional challenges,” LaCamera said.

During the campaign, Yoon consistently criticized President Moon Jae-in for his conciliatory approach to North Korea and China. Yoon called for “strategic clarity” when it comes to enforcing sanctions on Pyongyang for its nuclear and missile programs and in Seoul’s relations with Beijing.

He was quoted during the presidential race as saying, “peace is meaningless unless it is backed by power.”

Testifying beside LaCamera at the hearing, Adm. John Aquilino, commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, said, “the alliance with South Korea is the linchpin” of all others in the Indo-Pacific.

When asked about the resumption of large-scale military exercises with the South Koreans, LaCamera said “my preference is to do as much training as possible at all echelons.”

U.S. Army Gen. Paul J. LaCamera, the Commander of United Nations Command, Combined Forces Command, U.S. Forces Korea, talks with U.S. Marine Corps Lt. Gen. H. Stacy Clardy, III, the III Marine Expeditionary Force Commanding General and Maj. Gen. Bradley S. James, the U.S. Marine Corps Forces Korea Commander, during an outcall at the USFK Headquarters, South Korea, Oct. 26, 2021. US Marine Corps Photo

Former President Donald Trump suspended major combined exercises after his 2018 meeting in Singapore with Kim Jong-un in an effort to speed negotiations on denuclearizing the Korean peninsula and curbing the North Korean’s missile programs.

The COVID-19 pandemic in 2020 and 2021 complicated resumption on large-scale exercises.

Ballistic missile defense is at the top of the priorities list for the command, LaCamera said told the House Armed Services Committee Wednesday. Following close behind is ensuring that intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets are placed properly to meet changing threats from Pyongyang.

LaCamera said, “we have to make sure we get after the kill web” rather than trading “arrows for arrows” in the event of a missile attack from North Korea.

In part, he was referring to missile defense systems like Patriot and Theater High-Altitude Area Defense [THAAD] already in place in the Republic of Korea.

LaCamera said North Korean leader Kim’s goal in escalating missile tests as recently as Saturday and threatening to resume nuclear weapons testing “is protecting his position in the world.”

Included in the nine tests this year were two involving hypersonic glide vehicles and on intermediate range ballistic missile.

“The threat is real,” LaCamera said.

The challenge in Korea for the United States, he told the House panel, is Seoul “will tell you their economic partner is China; their security partner is the United States.”

The example he used was the split in South Korean public opinion over deploying the THAAD system and angering China.

This stance was the “strategic ambiguity” that Yoon pledged to end.

While his conservative People Power Party holds the presidency for the next five years, Moon’s Democratic Party retains control of the National Assembly.

Navy Questioning How to Sustain Fleet in High-End Fight, Says Analyst

The Navy is asking itself how the service can sustain the fleet in high-end conflict when it no longer has government-owned or American-flagged merchant vessels feeding forward bases to rely on in wartime, a maritime analyst told an international online forum Thursday. Sal Mercogliano, associate professor of history at Campbell University, said sustainment for the […]

Sailors prepare for a replenishment-at-sea with fleet replenishment oiler USNS Pecos (T-AO-197) in the hangar bay of aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) on Oct. 18, 2020. US Navy Photo

The Navy is asking itself how the service can sustain the fleet in high-end conflict when it no longer has government-owned or American-flagged merchant vessels feeding forward bases to rely on in wartime, a maritime analyst told an international online forum Thursday.

Sal Mercogliano, associate professor of history at Campbell University, said sustainment for the Navy “has changed fundamentally since 1945.” The shift exposes shortfalls in being able to “logistically support itself” when deployed.

While the Navy remains a global military force, the United States currently ranks 21st in global merchant shipping.

The merchant fleets themselves have changed from being government-owned to held by a few privately-owned companies flying “flags of convenience,” like Panama, Liberia, Hong Kong or the Marshall Islands. Over the same period, the amount of world cargo carried by sea has increased more than 20 times above World War II levels.

The shippers are also moving cargo far more rapidly – both from port to port and from container ship to shore – than they had in the past.

The United States’ decline as a maritime power has had a profound effect on Navy shipbuilding and repair, he said. Mercogliano, who wrote on sealift in December for Proceedings, noted that with commercial orders for large cargo ships flat or falling, there are a shrinking number of private yards available to build auxiliaries like tankers.

USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) sits inside a dry-dock in preparation for launch at Huntington Ingalls Industries Pascagoula, Miss., shipyard on April 16, 2019. US Navy Photo

The impact is noticeable on the number of yards open around the country to repair warships, auxiliaries and Coast Guard vessels. He used the example of the year and a half it took to repair Arleigh Burke-class destroyer USS Fitzgerald (DDG-62) following a collision at sea that killed 10 sailors.

“We let down our guard” on allowing American shipyards to close down, retired Coast Guard Capt. James Howe said at the same forum.

The environment in which these vessels would operate has also changed to potentially being “highly contested,” even in supplying forward bases that supported American and allied military efforts in Korea, Vietnam and Desert Shield/Desert Storm.

“Will those international companies make their vessels available” in a conflict remained unanswered. He added that during the pandemic, cruise lines decided to keep ships in port and lay off crews to wait until they could safely resume business.

Sailors aboard the aircraft carrier USS Gerald R. Ford (CVN-78) move supplies during a vertical replenishment-at-sea with the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Joshua Humphreys (T-AO-188) on March 24, 2020. US Navy Photo

Looking at the readiness of the 61 ships that would provide “surge sealift,” Mercogliano said that when stress-exercised in 2019, only 40 percent of ships meant to be activated were ready to deploy on schedule. The desired reliability rate is 85 percent. The average age of the vessels is 46 years.

In short, “combatant commanders don’t have what they expect” to have at their disposal in a crisis, he said.

Likewise, the ships in the two squadrons that are prepositioned, stationed in the Marianas in the Pacific and at Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean, are more than 25 years old. “Prepositioning has been a validated concept since the 1990s” when the stores and equipment – as heavy as M-1 tanks – were offloaded for Marines in Desert Storm, Mercogliano said.

But prepositioning is expensive. “You’re paying for them to stand around,” waiting to be used during an emergency and the forces are vulnerable to attack, he noted. Over time, the number of squadrons was cut from three to two. Additionally, “each of these squadrons do not carry the full complement for a Marine brigade that they should carry. They carry about two-thirds” of the expected requirement.

“Unfortunately, this has not been a priority” in shipbuilding plans, Mercogliano noted.

Speaking at the same Kiel University in Germany forum, Howe said “when we go to world-wide operations [from Bahrain since 2002 to the Western Pacific, to drug interdiction and migrant movement in the eastern Pacific and Caribbean], we’re stretched very thin.”

Howe said the active-duty Coast Guard – with 41,000 service members – is “a little big bigger than the New York City Police Department. We have to cover the whole U.S., and the expeditionary operations.” Zeroing in on the eastern Pacific as one area, he said “it is larger than the continental United States.” At any one time, five to 10 Coast Guard and Navy vessels with Law Enforcement Detachments aboard are patrolling the waters known for trafficking cocaine.

He said the Coast Guard is in the midst of a major recapitalization of its sea-going fleet and aviation assets. Using the heavy icebreaker program to illustrate long-term budget impact on a service that usually has sharp curbs on spending, Howe said the cost is running about $800 million per hull.

Cmdr. Jessica Morera, from San Diego, observes supplies being transferred from the fleet replenishment oiler USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187) to the Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyer USS Sterett (DDG-104) during a replenishment-at-sea with while underway conducting a composite unit training exercise (COMPTUEX) as part of the Nimitz Carrier Strike Group (CSG) on May 17, 2020. US Navy Photo

While current plans call for three Polar Security Cutters, it would require a 10-year congressional commitment of support for that program alone. “It will be a very hard thing to get through, keep on budget, on schedule,” Howe said.

Howe and Mercogliano said they saw little support in Congress for using foreign shipyards to build the heavy icebreakers. Only Finland and Russia are building them now, but China has shown interest in the market.

The Navy is looking for a “quick fix” in buying and converting foreign-built ships for surge capacity and pursuing an acquisition and construction strategy similar to what it followed after the first Gulf War. Mercogliano said a major difference now in buying foreign vessels is these “ships are built to different standards” than what the military requires.

In re-building an American international ocean-going merchant fleet, he added that the matter comes down to what cargo will be available for these vessels to carry and at what price to shippers, since U.S. labor costs are higher than the Chinese. That cost difference can translate into government subsidies.

Citing naval analyst Alfred Thayer Mahan, Mercogliano said, “true seapower has a commercial and military aspect to it.”

Top Stories 2020: International Naval Acquisition

This post is part of a series of stories looking back at the top naval news from 2020. China, Russia and the U.S. all announced sweeping expansions of their naval capacity in 2020 as the three largest world fleets vie for high seas influence in a declared era of great power competition. The new tone for […]

HMS Queen Elizabeth R08 arriving back in Portsmouth July 2, 2020 after a period at sea conducting Operational Sea Training. UK Royal Navy Photo

This post is part of a series of stories looking back at the top naval news from 2020.

China, Russia and the U.S. all announced sweeping expansions of their naval capacity in 2020 as the three largest world fleets vie for high seas influence in a declared era of great power competition. The new tone for naval forces is helping U.S. allies achieve more lethal navies and expanded capabilities.

Everyone Wants an Aircraft Carrier

Chinese carrier Shandong. PLA Photo

While a debate of the future aircraft carrier force raged in the U.S., American allies and adversaries moved to purchase their own naval aviation capability.

In China, the People’s Liberation Army Navy made progress on its third aircraft carrier that would be a domestic design featuring modern catapults and arresting gear. The Type 003 (occasionally referred to in the West as the Type 002) is a departure from the Soviet-style carriers currently in the PLAN’s inventory.

“This design will enable it to support additional fighter aircraft, fixed-wing early-warning aircraft, and more rapid flight operations and thus extend the reach and effectiveness of its carrier-based strike aircraft. [China’s] second domestically built carrier is projected to be operational by 2024, with additional carriers to follow,” the Pentagon’s annual report to Congress on Chinese military capabilities.

At least one senior U.S. official said China’s enthusiasm for the program makes a case for the efficacy of the carrier platform.

“To me that makes all the sense, they’re a maritime power and they understand the great value that comes from carrier aviation and how that can shape the international environment. It’s taken us over 100 years to get that right,” Adm. Chris Grady, commander of U.S. Fleet Forces Command, said during the American Society of Naval Engineers 2020 Fleet Maintenance Modernization Symposium in September.
“Lot of blood, lot of loss of life, a lot of sweat and tears to make naval aviation work. We’ve got a huge lead and one that will continue to expand into the future. Go ahead and build that big ship, but to build the ecosystem that is naval aviation that brings that ship to life – that’s going to take a lot of hard work and time.”

Concept image of the LPX-II Lighting Carrier from South Korea. Republic of Korea Navy Image

South Korea is developing capacity to allow their big-deck ships to launch fixed-wing fighters. Following Japan’s conversion of its two Izumo-class helicopter destroyers to field F-35B Lightning II Joint Strike Fighters, the Republic of Korea Navy is building a light carrier to field F-35Bs. The LPX-II carrier will be dedicated to naval aviation and not be modeled after U.S. and Japanese big deck amphibs, USNI News and Naval News reported in August.

Artist’s impression of PANG aircraft carrier.

France kicked off its own carrier program with an announcement from President Emmanuel Macron in early December. The PANG (Porte Avion Nouvelle Generation, or next-generation aircraft carrier) program is set to produce a replacement for the existing FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) aircraft carrier around 2038. Reuters reported the carrier could cost up to $6 billion.

The U.K. Royal Navy continued the development of its two-ship Queen Elizabeth-class carrier program with a carrier strike group exercise featuring lead ship HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08). HMS Prince of Wales (R09) was commissioned in late 2019 and has been working through post-delivery trials. The ship is currently undergoing repairs after major flooding in October. In November, the U.K. proposed a massive $32-billion military expansion that includes a larger Royal Navy fleet.

China’s Rapid Naval Expansion

Chinese sailors. Xinhua Photo

China’s rapid expansion of the People’s Liberation Army Navy drew major concern from the Pentagon in 2020.

“The PRC has the largest navy in the world, with an overall battle force of approximately 350 ships and submarines including over 130 major surface combatants. In comparison, the U.S. Navy’s battle force is approximately 293 ships as of early 2020. China is the top ship-producing nation in the world by tonnage and is increasing its shipbuilding capacity and capability for all naval classes,” reads the Pentagon’s annual China military power report.

China is expanding its fleet in every area.

“It’s important to highlight the Chinese shipbuilding advantages in terms of its size of the fleet, is both in context of the broader modernization ambitions, virtual class military. This is a long-term challenge, and it’s not only demarcated by a single variable, which would be total number of vessels, tonnage capacity, capabilities, location, posture, activities, and then other aspects,” Chad Sbragia, deputy assistant secretary of defense for China, said in September.

In addition to aircraft carriers, the PLAN kept up a high rate of construction throughout 2020.

The report highlighted the launch of almost two dozen Luyang III guided-missile destroyers, the commissioning of the 30th Jiangkai II-class guided-missile frigate, the construction of six Renhai guided-missile cruisers and the entrance more than 40 Jiangdao corvettes into the PLAN fleet.

The lead Chinese Type-075 preparing for sea trials. Photo via Weibo

China is also expanding its amphibious fleet, marked by the start of sea trials for the Type-075 big-deck amphibious warship. The Congressional Research Service tied the development of the Type-075 and the Type-071 amphibious warship to Beijing’s desire to reunite with Taiwan.

“The Type 075 would be of value for conducting amphibious landings in Taiwan-related conflict scenarios, some observers believe that China is building such ships as much for their value in conducting other operations, such as operations for asserting and defending China’s claims in the South and East China Seas, humanitarian assistance/disaster relief (HA/DR) operations, maritime security operations (such as antipiracy operations), and noncombatant evacuation operations (NEOs),” the report reads.

China is also looking to expand its submarine force.

“The PLAN currently operates four nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs) with two additional hulls fitting out, six nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSNs), and 50 diesel-powered attack submarines (SSs). The PLAN will likely maintain between 65 and 70 submarines through the 2020s, replacing older units with more capable units on a near one-to-one basis,” reads the report.

Many of the new platforms are fielding new anti-ship weapons and land-attack cruise missiles.

HI Sutton Image, used with permission

China also developed its own unmanned surface vehicle that bears a resemblance to the U.S. Navy’s Sea Hunter program.

Russia’s Less Rapid Naval Expansion

K-560 Severodvinsk in 2018. Russian MoD Photo

Russia has seen a more modest uptick in naval construction in 2020.

In July, Russian Navy head Adm. Nikolai Yevmenov promised the Russian Navy would commission 40 ships into service – a mix of corvettes, mine countermeasures ships, ballistic missile submarines and a blend of nuclear and diesel-electric attack boats.

Among the most important shipbuilding efforts for the Russian Navy is the Yasen-class nuclear attack boat program.

The Russians have been slow to deliver the highly capable attack boats with only one, Severodvinsk, currently in service. Second-in-class Kazan is close to commissioning, successfully test firing both land-attack and anti-ship missiles in a training range near the Northern Fleet’s White Sea naval base, reported Naval News. The third ship in the class is also set to commission soon.

The effectiveness of the Yasen boats have, in part, driven the U.S. to pay more attention to anti-submarine warfare efforts in the Atlantic.

Jane’s reported that the Russians had laid the keel for two more Yasen attack boats, bringing the total under construction to eight.

The Russian Navy is moving to expand its fleet in the Pacific, announcing an increase of 15 ships in its Pacific Fleet in 2020 in the state-controlled Tass wire service.