USS Nimitz Back in the South China Sea After Singapore Port Visit

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group departed Singapore on Thursday after a port visit and is now back in the South China Sea, the Navy announced on Friday. The Nimitz CSG – including carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and destroyers USS Decatur (DDG-73), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) – arrived in Singapore at […]

The aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN 68) steams through the South China Sea. Nimitz in U.S. 7th Fleet conducting routine operations on Jan. 13, 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

The Nimitz Carrier Strike Group departed Singapore on Thursday after a port visit and is now back in the South China Sea, the Navy announced on Friday.

The Nimitz CSG – including carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) and destroyers USS Decatur (DDG-73), USS Chung-Hoon (DDG-93), and USS Wayne E. Meyer (DDG-108) – arrived in Singapore at Changi Naval Base on Saturday, a day before the Chinese New Year period, known as Spring Festival in China, began on Sunday. The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) generally has a less intensive operational deployment during this time, similar to western navies during the Christmas holiday period.

Prior to its arrival in Singapore, the Nimitz CSG operated in the Philippine Sea and South China Sea, where it performed “maritime strike training, anti-submarine operations, integrated multi-domain and joint training between surface and air elements, and flight operations with fixed and rotary wing aircraft, according to a Navy news release. The Nimitz CSG deployed from the West Coast on Dec. 3 and chopped into U.S. 7th Fleet on Dec. 16. The two other ships that are part of the CSG, cruiser USS Bunker Hill (CG-52) and destroyer USS Paul Hamilton (DDG-60), are currently operating independently in the Philippine Sea and Pacific Ocean, respectively, according to Pentagon photo releases.

Also in the South China Sea is USS Makin Island (LHD-8) and amphibious transport dock USS John P. Murtha (LPD-26), along with the embarked 13th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU). The Makin Island Amphibious Ready Group, which also includes with USS Anchorage (LPD-23), left Naval Base San Diego, Calif., in November for a deployment to the Indo-Pacific. Anchorage wrapped up its participation in Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT)/Marine Exercise (MAREX) Sri Lanka 2023 on Thursday, according to a Navy statement.

The exercise began on Jan. 19 in Colombo at two Sri Lanka Navy (SLN) bases and also in the Laccadive Sea, according to a 7th Fleet news release.

“The exercise focused on increasing proficiency in humanitarian assistance, disaster relief (HADR), and maritime security capabilities,” the release reads.

The U.S. Navy sent Anchorage and the 13th MEU embarked to the sea phase of the exercise, while the Sri Lanka Navy sent two offshore patrol vessels – SLNS Gajabahu (P 626) and SLNS Vijayabahu (P 627), according to 7th Fleet. Sri Lanka’s air force, the Japan Maritime-Self Defense Force, and the Maldives National Defense Force also joined for the drills.

“Additional exercises conducted at sea included divisional tactics, visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS), replenishment-at-sea approaches, and reconnaissance and gunnery exercises. Helicopters aboard Anchorage successfully carried out VBSS exercises, embarkation, and disembarkation of personnel and material on the decks of the SLN ships involved in the sea phase,” according to the 7th Fleet release.

JS Suzutsuki conducted a bilateral exercise with the French Navy Charles de Gaulle CSG in the vicinity of Western Arabian Sea. JMSDF Photo

Nearby in the Indian Ocean, the French Navy’s Charles De Gaulle CSG continues its deployment after wrapping up the Varuna joint exercise with the Indian Navy on Jan. 20. The Charles De Gaulle CSG currently includes carrier FS Charles De Gaulle (R91), destroyers FS Forbin (D620) and FS Provence (D652), and replenishment ship FS Marne (A360).

Meanwhile, on Friday the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force issued a news release announcing that “Iron Fist 23” will take place from Feb. 16 to March 12 between the JGSDF and the U.S. Marine Corps’ III Marine Expeditionary Force.

The drills will take place near the JGSDF Hijyudai Maneuver Area on Kyushu, Tokunoshima Island and Kikaijima Island, both part of the Amani Islands lying between Kyushu and Okinawa and Camp Hansen, Okinawa, while aviation units will largely stage out of JGSDF Camp Takayubaru on Kyushu. JGSDF forces taking part in the exercise will be the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB), 1st Airborne Brigade, and 1st Helicopter Brigade, along with the Western Army Aviation Unit. The U.S. Marine Corps’ 31st MEU will participate, while the U.S. Navy and JMSDF will participate with the America ARG – which features amphibious assault ship USS America (LHA-6), amphibious transport dock USS Green Bay (LPD-20), and dock landing ship USS Ashland (LSD-48) – and LST JS Osumi (LST-4001), respectively.

According to the JGSDF news release, this Iron Fist is the first time the drills will take place with both III MEF and in the Western Pacific. The goal is to perform joint operations between Japan and the U.S.

Meanwhile, in Japan, the 3rd Marine Littoral Regiment (MLR) is about to begin a training exercise, according to a Marine Corps news release issued on Friday.

“This will be the eighth exercise the MLR has participated in since re-designating last year,” Col. Timothy Brady, the commanding officer of the 3rd MLR, said in the release. “We’ve progressed from wargaming Expeditionary Advanced Base Operations in a classroom to now conducting EABO at a service-level training exercise operating as a Stand-in Force under a Division headquarters. MLR-TE gives us a chance to train hard, refine tactics and procedures, and continue to rapidly develop this force of the future.”

The Marine Corps plans to take lessons learned from the training event and apply them to Balikatan 2023 in the Philippines in April, according to the release.

In the Philippine Sea, U.S Navy ships from commander, Task Force (CTF) 70 and commander, Task Force (CTF) 71 finished the Surface Warfare Advanced Tactical Training (SWATT) drills, according to a separate news release from 7th Fleet.

“Forward Deployed Naval Forces-Japan (FDNF-J) SWATT 2023 was the first multi-international iteration of the exercise with participation from the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF),” the release reads.

CNS Yuhengxing (798) Japanese MoD photo

For the U.S. Navy, cruisers USS Chancellorsville (CG-62), USS Antietam (CG-54) and USS Shiloh (CG-67), destroyer USS Rafael Peralta (DDG-115) and replenishment ship USNS Washington Chambers (T-AKE-11) participated in the exercise, while destroyer JS Ashigara (DDG-178) joined for the JMSDF. From Jan. 15 through Jan. 23, Ashigara conducted tactical exercises with those U.S. ships and replenishment ship USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) from south of Kanto, near Okinawa, south of Shikoku Island, according to a news release the JMSDF issued Monday. A Friday JMSDF release said replenishment ship JS Oumi (AOE-426) conducted a replenishment exercise with Antietam on Thursday near Okinawa.

Also on Thursday, a Chinese Dongdiao-class surveillance vessel was sighted at 10 a.m. local time that day sailing northwest in an area 150 kilometers east of Miyako Island, the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s Ministry of Defense said in a news release. The hull number and image in the release identified the ship as CNS Yuhengxing (798) and the ship subsequently sailed northwest through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea. The release noted that the PLAN ship had transited southeast through the Miyako Strait on Jan. 19, and that minesweeper JS Shishijima (MSC-691) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa monitored.

U.S. Demonstrates Military Might in Beijing’s Backyard

By Joseph Campbell ABOARD THE NIMITZ, South China Sea, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Over a few hours under grey skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight…

By Joseph Campbell ABOARD THE NIMITZ, South China Sea, Jan 27 (Reuters) – Over a few hours under grey skies, dozens of combat planes and helicopters roar on and off the flight...

Japanese Scrambled Fewer Fighters Against Foreign Aircraft Last Year, Says MoD

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force carried out a total of 612 fighter scrambles against foreign aircraft by the end of the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2022, a decrease from a total of 785 scrambles in the same period for FY 2021, according to a report released Friday by the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s […]

Russian and Chinese aircraft flight patterns in FY 2022. Japanese Ministry of Defense Photo.

The Japan Air Self-Defense Force carried out a total of 612 fighter scrambles against foreign aircraft by the end of the third quarter of Fiscal Year 2022, a decrease from a total of 785 scrambles in the same period for FY 2021, according to a report released Friday by the Joint Staff Office of Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

Of the scrambles for the FY 2022 period, which covers April 1 through Dec. 31, 75 percent were against Chinese aircraft, 22 percent against Russian aircraft and three percent against other aircraft. Zero scrambles took place against North Korean and Taiwanese aircraft. In FY 2021, the JASDF carrier out three scrambles against Taiwanese aircraft.

Japan’s fiscal year is calculated as beginning on April 1 and ending on March 31 the following year. During the the third quarter of FY 2022, the number of scrambles broken down by area commands was 86 for the Northern Air Defense Command, 21 for the Central Air Defense Command, 91 for the Western Air Defense Command and 414 for the Southwestern Air Defense Command. The larger number of scrambles for the Southwestern Air Defense Command is expected, given that the People’s Liberation Army Navy carrier CNS Liaoning (16) conducted two deployments in the command’s area of responsibility. A number of Chinese aircraft and unmanned air vehicles also conducted operations in the area.

A map in the report showing the flight paths of Russian and Chinese aircraft throughout the third quarter showed that Russian flight activity took place around North East and Northwest Japan, off the west coast of Central and Western Japan, and Southwest and Southern Japan, with a significant number of transits through the Miyako Strait. Meanwhile, Chinese aerial activities were largely concentrated around Southwest and Southern Japan, with a significant number of flight paths transiting through the Miyako Strait to the east coast of Taiwan.

Chinese H-6 spotted south of Okinawa. Japanese MoD

For the third quarter of FY 2022, 462 scrambles took place against Chinese aircraft, in contrast to 571 for the same period in FY 2021, according to the report. Scrambles against Russian aircraft numbered 133 in the third quarter of FY 2022, compared to 199 for the same timeframe period in FY 2021. It was the lowest number since FY 2013.

The report also included 30 instances of Chinese and Russian aircraft activities that were deemed unusual during that third quarter. Eleven were J-15 fighter aircraft launches from Liaoning in May in the Pacific Ocean and another three were J-15 fighter aircraft launches from Liaoning in December. For the December instances, the scrambles took place over a period of several days, while the May instances happened on one specific day.

Two instances were joint flights by Russian Tu-95 and Chinese H-6 bombers, the first occurring on May 24 from the Sea of Japan, through the Tsushima Strait and out to the East China Sea and Pacific Ocean before returning the same way. The second joint flight included Russian Tu-95 and Chinese H-6 bombers flying the same route on Nov. 30, with Chinese fighter aircraft accompanying them on some legs

The remaining instances included Chinese bombers, electronic intelligence aircraft, reconnaissance aircraft and unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), in addition to Russian bombers, fighter aircraft, intelligence gathering aircraft and two instances of unidentified Russian aircraft.

Dongdiao-class surveillance vessel CNS Yuhengxing (798). Japanese Ministry of Defense Photo.

On Thursday and Friday, the JSO also issued two news releases on the operations of a Chinese Dongdiao-class surveillance vessel, a Chinese UAV and a Chinese Y-9 surveillance aircraft. At 12 noon local time on Thursday, a Dongdiao-class surveillance vessel was sighted sailing southeast in an area 80 kilometers west of Kume Island, according to the Thursday JSO release. The hull number and image in the release identified the ship as CNS Yuhengxing (798). The PLAN ship then sailed southeast through the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean, while Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force minesweeper JS Toyoshima (MSC-685) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, monitored, according to Japanese military.

In the afternoon of that same day, a Chinese BZK-005 UAV flew from the East China Sea and through the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean, according to a second JSO release issued on Thursday. The UAV then flew over the Pacific Ocean, south of Okinawa, before turning around and flying through the Miyako Strait and back into the East China Sea. JASDF fighter aircraft from the Southwestern Air Defense Command scrambled in response, the Japanese military said.

On Friday morning, A Chinese Y-9 surveillance aircraft flew in from the East China Sea, transited into the Pacific through the Miyako Strait and then flew in a circle in the Pacific Ocean before turning back and flying through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea, according to a Friday news release from the JSO. JASDF fighter aircraft also scrambled to intercept the Chinese aircraft.

PLAN Surface Action Group Operating in East China Sea; Japan and U.S. to Hold Security Talks

A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface action group and surveillance ship have returned to the East China Sea from the Pacific Ocean after operating there for the last few weeks. On Monday at 11 p.m., three PLAN ships were sighted sailing northwest in an area 160 kilometers southeast of Yonaguni island, according to a […]

People’s Liberation Army Navy destroyer CNS Kaifeng (124). JSDF Photo

A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface action group and surveillance ship have returned to the East China Sea from the Pacific Ocean after operating there for the last few weeks.
On Monday at 11 p.m., three PLAN ships were sighted sailing northwest in an area 160 kilometers southeast of Yonaguni island, according to a Wednesday news release from Japan’s Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defense. Yonaguni Island lies 108 kilometers from the east coast of Taiwan. Images and hull numbers provided in the release identified the ships as cruiser CNS Lhasa (102), destroyer CNS Kaifeng (124) and replenishment ship CNS Taihu (889).

On Tuesday, according to the release, the PLAN surface action group was sighted sailing northeastwards in an area between Yonaguni Island and Iriomote Island, and then sailed northwards in an area 70 kilometers west of Uotsuri Island, part of the disputed Senkaku Islands held by Japan and claimed by China and Taiwan.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer escort JS Tone (DE-234), a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base, Kyushu and a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa monitored the PLAN ships.

Paths of PLAN cruiser CNS Lhasa (102), destroyer CNS Kaifeng (124) and replenishment ship CNS Taihu (889). JSDF Photo.

Also on Wednesday, the JSO said a PLAN Dongdiao-class surveillance ship was sighted that day at 4 am. sailing northwards in an area 60 kilometers east of Miyako Island. The hull number and image provided in the release identified the ship as CNS Kaiyangxing (796). The PLAN ship then sailed northwards in the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea, according to the release, which noted that the ship had sailed southeast through the Miyako Strait on Dec. 14. A JMSDF P-3C Orion of Fleet Air Wing 5 shadowed the PLAN ship.

Meanwhile, China’s Ministry of National Defense on Thursday released a video showing J-15 fighters conducting flight operations in the South China Sea from carrier CNS Shandong (17). In the video, the MND only said the carrier had recently carried out a combat training exercise in the South China Sea and that “a number of J-15 fighter jets took off from the carrier and fought fiercely in the air. On the flight deck of the aircraft carrier, an emergency response drill to tackle arresting gear failure was carried out simultaneously,” according to the MND.

In Japan on Friday, Japan Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada announced that he and Foreign Minister Yoshimasa Hayashi will hold a 2+2 Japan-U.S. Security Consultative Committee talk on Jan. 11 in Washington, D.C., with their respective U.S counterparts: Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin and Secretary of State Antony Blinken. Hamada and Austin will also hold a Japan-U.S. Defense Ministerial Meeting.

The two events comes before the Jan. 13 meeting in Washington between President Joe Biden and Japan Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, in which the two leaders will “discuss a range of regional and global issues including the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s unlawful weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missile programs, Russia’s brutal war against Ukraine, and maintaining peace and stability across the Taiwan Strait,” according to a White House news release issued earlier this week.

Over in Korea, the Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) announced on Friday that it had conducted squadron level drills for its three fleet commands on Wednesday as part of its regular annual evaluation of combat readiness for its fleets, along with squadron level training at the start of the year. The ROKN’s 2nd Fleet conducted drills in the waters of the Yellow Sea in an area 80 kilometers west of the Taean Peninsula.

The ships conducting the drills included destroyer ROKS Eulji Mundeok (DDH-972), frigate ROKS Gyeonggi (FFG-812), missile patrol vessel ROKS Hong Siuk (PKG-723) and a Gumdoksuri-class patrol vessel, along with ROKN AW-159 Wildcat helicopters. The drills included helicopter launch and landings, tactical maneuvers and anti-ship and anti-air naval gunfire. Meanwhile, the 1st and 3rd Fleets conducted a combined drill in the East Sea and Yellow Sea with frigates ROKS Daegu (FFG-818), ROKS Donghae (FFG-822) and ROKS Gwangju (FFG-817); missile patrol vessels ROKS Lim Byeongrae (PKG-722), ROKS Kim Changhak (PKG-727) and ROKS Lee Byungchul (PKG-733); and several Gumdoksuri-class patrol vessels. The ships performed tactical manuevers and gunfire drills.

In Australia on Thursday, the Department of Defense issued a release stating it reached a deal with Norway’s Kongsberg to purchase the Naval Strike Missiles (NSM) to replace the Harpoon missile systems on the Royal Australian Navy’s eight Anzac-class frigates and three Hobart-class destroyers, with the replacements entering the fleet starting in 2024. With the NSMs and the purchase of the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) systems for the Australian Army, the Australian Defense Department is spending AUD $1 billion, or USD $677 million, according to the release.

Romania Buys Naval Strike Missile Coastal Batteries in $217M Deal

Raytheon was awarded a $208 million contract to arm Black Sea state and NATO member Romania with mobile coastal anti-ship missile batteries, the Pentagon announced in a Thursday contract statement. Working with the Norwegian company Kongsberg, Raytheon will provide Romania an unspecified number of Naval Strike Missile Coastal Defense Systems as part of the deal […]

Naval Strike Missile Coastal Defense System. Kongsberg Image

Raytheon was awarded a $208 million contract to arm Black Sea state and NATO member Romania with mobile coastal anti-ship missile batteries, the Pentagon announced in a Thursday contract statement.

Working with the Norwegian company Kongsberg, Raytheon will provide Romania an unspecified number of Naval Strike Missile Coastal Defense Systems as part of the deal that could be worth up to $217 million after all the options are exercised, according to the announcement. The bulk of the work will be done in Norway and at Raytheon’s facility in Tucson, Ariz., reads the statement.

Romania has a more than 100-mile coastline on the Black Sea – home to the Russian Navy’s Black Sea Fleet.

According to a 2021 report from Norwegian engineering magazine Teknisk Ukeblad, the deal would pay for two coastal defense systems that would amount to four mobile launchers and two command and control nodes for the batteries.

The NSM was developed initially for the Royal Norwegian Navy as a modern anti-ship missile with a range of more than 100 nautical miles for its surface fleet. The ground-based launcher was developed by Kongsberg in part for export sales paired with a command and control system.

“The primary missions for NSM CDS are maritime interdictions against sea targets from small and light ships made of Glass Fiber Reinforced Plastics (GFRP) to large naval combatants like destroyers and frigates and ships with [a] thick hull like icebreakers,” reads Kongsberg marketing material for the system.
“Secondly, land targets are handled by the NSM CDS. The land attack capability is primarily based on use of the military GPS but seeker-assisted land attack capability is also available if requested.”

The U.S. and Romania signed a foreign military sales agreement in 2021 to acquire the Naval Strike Missile Coastal Defense System. In addition to Norway and the U.S., Poland is fielding NSM. Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, the Netherlands, Spain, Malaysia and Germany also plan to use the missiles.

In November, the U.K. Ministry of Defense reached a deal to outfit 11 Royal Navy warships with the NSMs in a direct deal with Norway as a replacement to its current Harpoon anti-ship missiles.

The U.S. Marine Corps have developed their own ground variant of ground-based Naval Strike Missile launcher – the Navy-Marine Expeditionary Ship Interdiction System (NMESIS). Marines strapped NSMs to a converted Joint Light Tactical Vehicle chassis operated by a remote control.

The U.S. Navy primarily fields NSMs on its Littoral Combat Ships for patrols in the Western Pacific.

VIDEO: Chinese Navy Fighter Flew Within 20 Feet of U.S. Air Force Plane Over South China Sea

A Chinese Navy jet intercepted a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane in an incident over the South China Sea last week, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said Thursday. “On Dec. 21 (China Standard Time), a People’s Liberation Army – Navy J-11 fighter pilot performed an unsafe maneuver during an intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft, […]

Chinese J-11 intercepts a U.S. Air Forces R-135 over the South China Sea. US Indo-Pacific Photo

A Chinese Navy jet intercepted a U.S. Air Force reconnaissance plane in an incident over the South China Sea last week, U.S. Indo-Pacific Command said Thursday.

“On Dec. 21 (China Standard Time), a People’s Liberation Army – Navy J-11 fighter pilot performed an unsafe maneuver during an intercept of a U.S. Air Force RC-135 aircraft, which was lawfully conducting routine operations over the South China Sea in international airspace. The PLAN pilot flew an unsafe maneuver by flying in front of and within 20 feet of the nose of the RC-135, forcing the RC-135 to take evasive maneuvers to avoid a collision,” INDOPACOM said in the statement.

Video released by the combatant command shows the PLAN jet flying close to the Air Force plane.

“The U.S. Indo-Pacific Joint Force is dedicated to a free and open Indo-Pacific region and will continue to fly, sail and operate at sea and in international airspace with due regard for the safety of all vessels and aircraft under international law. We expect all countries in the Indo-Pacific region to use international airspace safely and in accordance with international law,” the INDOPACOM statement continued.

The Dec. 21 incident occurred on the first day of the Russia-China Joint Sea 2022 drills in the East China Sea. A Chinese Navy submarine, destroyers CNS Baotou (133) and CNS Jinan (152), frigates CNS Binzhou (515) and Yancheng (546), and replenishment ship CNS Gaoyouhu (966) were scheduled to participate in the exercise, USNI News previously reported.

US Air Force Gets Buzzed Over South China Sea

By Tony Capaccio (Bloomberg) A Chinese fighter plane flew within 20 feet (6 meters) of a US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea in what the US…

By Tony Capaccio (Bloomberg) A Chinese fighter plane flew within 20 feet (6 meters) of a US Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the South China Sea in what the US...

China Accused of Building on Unoccupied Reefs in South China Sea

By Philip J. Heijmans (Bloomberg) — China is building up several unoccupied land features in the South China Sea, according to Western officials, which they said was part of Beijing’s long-running…

By Philip J. Heijmans (Bloomberg) — China is building up several unoccupied land features in the South China Sea, according to Western officials, which they said was part of Beijing’s long-running...

USS Chancellorsville Performs South China Sea FONOP, Draws Chinese Protests

The Tuesday passage of a U.S. guided missile cruiser past a disputed island chain in the South China Sea has drawn protests from Beijing and claims that the People’s Liberation Army expelled the ship from Chinese territorial waters. According to U.S. 7th Fleet, USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) sailed past the Spratly Island chain on Tuesday as […]

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) conducts routine underway operations in the South China Sea, Nov. 29, 2022. US Navy Photo

The Tuesday passage of a U.S. guided missile cruiser past a disputed island chain in the South China Sea has drawn protests from Beijing and claims that the People’s Liberation Army expelled the ship from Chinese territorial waters.

According to U.S. 7th Fleet, USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) sailed past the Spratly Island chain on Tuesday as part of a freedom of navigation operation.

“USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) asserted navigational rights and freedoms in the South China Sea near the Spratly Islands, consistent with international law. At the conclusion of the operation, USS Chancellorsville exited the excessive claim area and continued operations in the South China Sea,” reads the statement from 7th Fleet.
“The freedom of navigation operation (“FONOP”) upheld the rights, freedoms, and lawful uses of the sea recognized in international law by challenging restrictions on innocent passage imposed by the People’s Republic of China, Vietnam and Taiwan.”

China asserts that foreign warships passing within the territorial sea of its claims in the South China Sea require prior approval from Beijing. Under the U.N. Law of the Sea Convention, a warship make an “innocent passage” through another country’s territorial waters with our prior notification.

The Chinese state-supported South China Sea Probing Initiative published satellite images on Twitter showing the cruiser was operating near the Chinese artificial island at Fiery Cross Reef along with a U.S. P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.

SCS Probing Initiative

Under international law, a warship can transit through a nation’s territorial waters “so long as it is not prejudicial to the peace, good order or security of the coastal state,” according to Article 19 of the UNLOSC.

In a statement following the transit, the PLA Southern Theater issued a statement claiming Chinese forces drove Chancellorsville out of Chinese territorial waters.

Chancellorsville illegally intruded into the waters adjacent to China’s Nansha islands and reefs without the approval of the Chinese Government, and organized naval and air forces in the Chinese southern theater of the People’s Liberation Army to follow and monitor and give a warning to drive them away,” reads a translation of the statement. “The U.S. military’s actions have seriously violated China’s sovereignty and security, which is another ironclad proof of its hegemony in navigation and militarization of the South China Sea, and fully demonstrates that the United States is an out-and-out security risk maker in the South China Sea.”

In response, the U.S. Navy pushed back against the Chinese statement.

“The PRC’s statement about this mission is false. USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) conducted this FONOP in accordance with international law and then continued on to conduct normal operations in waters where high seas freedoms apply,” reads a 7th Fleet statement.
“The operation reflects our continued commitment to uphold freedom of navigation and lawful uses of the sea as a principle. The United States is defending every nation’s right to fly, sail, and operate wherever international law allows, as USS Chancellorsville did here. Nothing the PRC says otherwise will deter us.”

The Japan-based Chancellorsville has been operating with the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group in recent months.

The last reported U.S. FONOP in the South China Sea was performed by the guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65) in July.

Japanese MoD Report on Chinese Gray Zone, Influence Operations

The following is the Nov. 25, report from the Japanese National Institute For Defense Studies, China Security Report 2023: China’s Quest for Control of the Cognitive Domain and Gray Zone Situations. From the report The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the Party’s army. It follows the Party’s command and defines its most important role as […]

The following is the Nov. 25, report from the Japanese National Institute For Defense Studies, China Security Report 2023: China’s Quest for Control of the Cognitive Domain and Gray Zone Situations.

From the report

The People’s Liberation Army (PLA) is the Party’s army. It follows the Party’s command and defines its most important role as protecting the Party’s regime. Until President Xi Jinping’s military reforms, the Party exercised control over the military mainly through the PLA’s political work organizations, including the General Political Department, and political commissars. Such indirect control, however, was susceptible to communication issues and hindering the execution of joint operations, and caused widespread bribery and corruption in the PLA.

Xi Jinping’s military reforms drove the restructuring of Chinese military organizations, and in this context, the leadership of the Party has been strengthened. More emphasis is placed on direct control by the Chinese Communist Party, with focus especially on the implementation of the chairman responsibility system of the Central Military Commission (CMC) and the Party committees in the military. Furthermore, military governance through laws and rules is underscored. The Party’s leadership has been reinforced not only over the PLA but also over other military organizations, and mechanisms are being developed for coordination between
the military and other governmental actors. These measures were developed also as a response to modern forms of conflict that actively use non-military means.

For influence operations, the Strategic Support Force (SSF) was established. The SSF appears not only to integrate functions related to cyber, electromagnetic spectrum, and outer space, but also to be deeply engaged in the struggle for the psychological and cognitive domain.

For gray zone operations, the People’s Armed Police (PAP) and the CCG were reorganized. The PAP was placed under the sole leadership of the CMC, while the CCG became subordinate to the PAP and in turn was also placed under the leadership of the PLA. As a result of the reorganization, the PAP specializes in maintaining public security in peacetime and contributes more easily to PLA joint operations in a contingency.

Download the document here.