USS Tripoli Arrives in Singapore as Chinese Warships Continue to Operate Near Japan

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is now docked in Singapore for a port call, having arrived at Changi Naval Base on Wednesday following an underway in the South China Sea. Tripoli‘s stop in Singapore marks its first port visit since it pulled into Naval Base White Beach, Okinawa and embarked the 31st Marine Expeditionary […]

Marines assigned to the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) board an MV-22 Osprey tiltrotor aircraft assigned to Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 (Reinforced) operating from amphibious assault carrier USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on Aug. 12, 2022. US Navy Photo

Amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) is now docked in Singapore for a port call, having arrived at Changi Naval Base on Wednesday following an underway in the South China Sea.

Tripoli‘s stop in Singapore marks its first port visit since it pulled into Naval Base White Beach, Okinawa and embarked the 31st Marine Expeditionary Unit on July 25.

Prior to embarking the 31st MEU, Tripoli had been operating under the “lightning carrier” concept, in which it had more than a dozen F-35Bs aboard during its Pacific deployment. The ship is underway with Marine MV-22B Ospreys and CH-53E Super Stallions for the remainder of its Indo-Pacific deployment. Tripoli took part in the June Valiant Shield exercise, but has transitioned to an amphibious ready force with the Marine Medium Tiltrotor Squadron (VMM) 262 (Reinforced) embarked. Since it began its deployment in May, Tripoli has also had a detachment of MH-60S Knight Hawks embarked from the “Wildcards” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 23.

In April, Tripoli’s then commanding officer, Capt. Joel Lang, told USNI News that for its upcoming deployment the big deck could operate either as a lightning carrier or an amphibious assault platform.

While Tripoli was in the South China Sea, closer to Japan, a Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface action group transited the Tsushima Strait on Tuesday into the Sea of Japan. A PLAN intelligence ship and PLAN destroyer separately transited the Miyako Strait into the Pacific on Sunday and Wednesday, according to Japan Ministry of Defense releases.

On Sunday, PLAN Dongdiao-class intelligence ship sailed southeast through the waters between Okinawa and Miyako Island into the Pacific Ocean, according to a Monday news release from the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defense. The MoD said that Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer JS Fuyuzuki (DD-118) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 operating from Naha Air Base, Okinawa, monitored the PLAN ship.

An F-35B Lightning II aircraft attached to Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA 211) launches off from the flight deck aboard amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) on April 2, 2022. US Marine Corps Photo

On Tuesday, the JSO issued another news release stating that on Monday at 1 p.m., three PLAN ships – a destroyer, frigate and replenishment ship – were sighted 240 kilometers southwest of Tsushima. Images and hull numbers provided identified the ships as destroyer CNS Nanchang (101), frigate CNS Yancheng and replenishment ship CNS Dongpinghu (902). On Tuesday, the three ships sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait into the Sea of Japan, the release said. JMSDF fast attack crafts JS Otaka (PG-826) and JS Umitaka (PG-828), along with a JMSDF P-1 MPA of Fleet Air Wing 4 operating from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu, monitored the PLAN ships.

On Wednesday, the JSO said a PLAN destroyer was sighted that morning sailing southeast in an area 93 miles north-northeast of Miyako Island. Imagery and hull number provided in the news release identified the destroyer as CNS Zibo (156), which then subsequently sailed southeast through the Miyako Strait into the Pacific Ocean. The PLAN ship was also monitored by a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5.

Meanwhile, in Guam, the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, the JMSDF, the Republic of Korea Navy and the United States Navy concluded exercise Pacific Vanguard 2022 on Monday. The exercise took place from Aug. 21 until Aug. 29, according to a JMSDF news release.
A U.S. 7th Fleet release said the exercise was “designed to provide training that emphasizes integrated task group maritime training and maneuver in a challenging exercise environment. It allows the U.S. and its allies to be equipped and ready to respond to crises and contingencies in a changing Indo-Pacific.”

Rear Adm. Toshiyuki Hirata, the commander of the JMSDF Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) and commander of Japanese forces in the exercise said “Pacific Vanguard 2022 is a high-end exercise to operate together in high threat, complex situations in order to maintain stability and freedom of access to the oceans, and global commons. I hope this exercise will further strengthen the strong partnership among the participating countries and contribute to the peace and stability of the Indo-Pacific region in order to realize a free and Open Indo-Pacific.”

Japanese forces taking part in the exercise included helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183), destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110), a submarine, a P-1 MPA, a UP-3D Electronic Intelligence training aircraft, and elements of the Amphibious Rapid Deployment Brigade (ARDB) of the Japanese Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF).

ARDB members, together with their U.S Marines counterparts, directed naval gunfire support from ships in the exercise, according to a JGSDF news release. U.S units in the exercise included destroyer USS Barry (DDG-52), dry cargo and ammunition ship USNS Alan Shepard (T-AKE-3), an attack submarine, the 5th Air Naval Gun Liaison Company (ANGLICO) of 3rd Marine Expeditionary Force (MEF), a P-8 from the “Mad Foxes” of Patrol Squadron (VP) 5 and EA-18Gs from the “Start Warriors” of Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) 209.

Destroyer HMAS Sydney (DDG42), frigate HMAS Perth (FFH157) and replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195), participated for the RAN, while Canadian participation included frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH331). The ROKN participated with destroyers ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH-976) and ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991).

CNS Zibo (156). JMSDF MoD

Japan’s Izumo and Takanami form the first surface unit of the JMSDF’s IPD22 deployment, with the submarine and aircraft in Pacific Vanguard forming independent sub-units of IPD22 that would participate in some of the engagements involving the two surface units. The second surface unit is destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104), which is completed a port visit on Tuesday in Noumea, French New Caledonia. Earlier, Kirisame conducted exercise Oguri-Verny 22-5 near French New Caledonia from Aug. 25-26 with French Navy offshore patrol vessel FS D’Entrecasteaux (A621) and a French Air Force Falcon 200.

Izumo, Takanami, Supply, Vancouver, Munmu the Great and Sejong the Great all took part in the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise, which concluded on Aug. 4. Other ships from the Indo-Pacific region are now home or headed home from RIMPAC. Philippine Navy frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF151) arrived in Manila on Thursday, while Indonesian Navy frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332) arrived home on Aug. 22. Royal Malaysian Navy corvette KD Lekir (FSG26) arrived at RMN Kota Kinabalu, East Malaysia on Friday, but will leave for her homeport at RMN Lumut Naval Base. Meanwhile, Singapore frigate RSS Intrepid (69) is on its way home after departing Japan on Saturday.

Solomon Islands Blocks All US Navy Ships

By Ben Westcott (Bloomberg) The Solomon Islands has temporarily suspended all naval visits by the US as relations continue to deteriorate between Washington and the Pacific nation. The US government was…

By Ben Westcott (Bloomberg) The Solomon Islands has temporarily suspended all naval visits by the US as relations continue to deteriorate between Washington and the Pacific nation. The US government was...

US Coast Guard Can’t Bunker In Solomon Islands 

By Kirsty Needham (Reuters) A United States Coast Guard vessel was unable to enter Solomon Islands for a routine port call because the Solomon Islands government did not respond to a…

By Kirsty Needham (Reuters) A United States Coast Guard vessel was unable to enter Solomon Islands for a routine port call because the Solomon Islands government did not respond to a...

Reagan Carrier Strike Group Wraps Spring Patrol Following Chinese Military Drills Near Taiwan

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) pulled into Yokosuka, Japan on Friday, wrapping a three-month patrol in the Western Pacific, USNI News has learned. USNI News confirmed ship spotter reports that the carrier had returned to its Japan homeport. The forward-deployed carrier will now start its annual maintenance period at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, a Navy official confirmed […]

Sailors on the bridge wing of Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Chancellorsville (CG-62) observe a replenishment-at-sea between the USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) in the Philippine Sea on Aug. 12, 2022. US Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) pulled into Yokosuka, Japan on Friday, wrapping a three-month patrol in the Western Pacific, USNI News has learned.

USNI News confirmed ship spotter reports that the carrier had returned to its Japan homeport. The forward-deployed carrier will now start its annual maintenance period at Fleet Activities Yokosuka, a Navy official confirmed to USNI News.

After departing for its patrol on May 20, Reagan was active in the Philippine and South China seas during its three months underway, according to the USNI News Fleet and Marine Tracker.

In mid-June Reagan and Carrier Strike Group 5 linked up with carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) and amphibious assault ship USS Tripoli (LHA-7) for the American exercise Valiant Shield near Guam. Following the drills, Reagan entered the South China Sea in July. The carrier made a port call in Singapore on July 22 – the first for the carrier since 2019.

Following the port visit, Reagan made a swift transit across the South China Sea and took up station along with Tripoli at the western edge of the Philippine Sea ahead of U.S. House Speaker Rep. Nancy Pelosi’s (D-Calif.) visit to Taiwan in early August.

Following Pelosi’s visit, the Chinese military kicked off a provocative series of air and naval drills near Taiwan. Tripoli and Reagan stayed on station as the drills progressed.

Reagan will now start its annual maintenance period. Unlike carriers based in the U.S. that deploy on the 36-month Optimized Fleet Response Plan cycle, Reagan has a yearly repair period and typically goes on two three-month patrols each year.

The following is the composition of the Strike Group when it embarked on its patrol.

Carrier Strike Group 5

Aircraft carrier

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Carrier Air Wing 5

Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 5, based at Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan, is embarked aboard Ronald Reagan and includes a total of nine squadrons and detachments:

  • The “Royal Maces” of VFA-27 – Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) – from Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan.
  • The “Diamondbacks” of VFA-102 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Eagles” of VFA-115 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Dambusters” of VFA-195 from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Shadowhawks” of VAQ-141 – Electronic Attack Squadron (VAQ) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Tiger Tails” of VAW-125 – Carrier Airborne Early Warning Squadron (VAW) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Providers” of VRC-30 – Detachment 5 – Fleet Logistics Support Squadron (VRC) – from MCAS Iwakuni.
  • The “Golden Falcons” of HSC-12 – Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Japan.
  • The “Saberhawks” of HSM-77 – Helicopter Maritime Strike Squadron (HSM) – from Naval Air Facility Atsugi.

Cruiser

USS Antietam (CG-54), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Destroyer Squadron 15

Destroyer Squadron 15 is based in Yokosuka, Japan, and is embarked on the carrier.

  • USS Benfold (DDG-65), homeported in Yokosuka, Japan.

Japan’s New Defense Minister Looking to Improve Country’s Defense Posture Amid Chinese Aggression

As Japan’s new defense chief, Yasukazu Hamada plans to improve Japan’s defense posture and capabilities, he said Wednesday. The Chinese military’s recent activities, combined with their lack of transparency regarding national defense policies and military capabilities, have become a major security concern for Japan, countries in the region and the international community, Hamada said. The first task […]

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH 183) and U.S. Navy Wasp-class amphibious assault ship USS Essex (LHD-2) sail in formation during Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, July 28. US Navy Photo

As Japan’s new defense chief, Yasukazu Hamada plans to improve Japan’s defense posture and capabilities, he said Wednesday.

The Chinese military’s recent activities, combined with their lack of transparency regarding national defense policies and military capabilities, have become a major security concern for Japan, countries in the region and the international community, Hamada said.

The first task for the defense minister, on the list given to him by Prime Minister Fumio Kishida, is to ensure that the Defense Ministry implements national security policies in a more strategic and systematic manner under the National Security Council and in cooperation with relevant ministers, Hamada said during his inaugural press conference at the Ministry of Defense.

“With regard to the National Security Strategy, the National Defense Program Guidelines, and the Mid-Term Defense Buildup Plan, which are the foundations of the plan, we will work together with the relevant ministers to revise them in light of the severe security environment surrounding our country, and drastically improve our defense capabilities within five years,” Hamada said.

All options are under consideration, including “counterattack capabilities,” which has been controversial due to Japan’s longstanding policy of only having defensive military capabilities, Hamada said. By the end of the year, the Ministry of Defense will finish assessing actions it could take to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities.

Other focus areas for the MoD include securing its munitions and ammunition supply, research and development of military technology, strengthening the defense production and technological base and addressing public concerns on the reorganization and activities of U.S military forces in Japan.

Japan will further strengthen the deterrence and response capabilities of the Japan-United States alliance by expanding and deepening security and defense cooperation between the two countries, Hamada said, adding the need stems from the increasing severity of the regional security situation.

With the Japan-U.S. Alliance as the cornerstone, the Japanese military will carry out joint training and equipment/technical cooperation with Australia, India, the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, Europe, Pacific island countries and others to maintain a “free and open Indo-Pacific,” Hamada said.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Asagiri-class destroyer JS Yamagiri (DD 152), left, JMSDF Asahi-class destroyer JS Asahi (DD 119), and JMSDF Akizuki-class destroyer JS Teruzuki (DD 116) sail in formation during Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX), Nov. 21. U.S. Navy Photo

The Japanese defense minister said there is no change to Japan’s policy that the Taiwan issue should get resolved through peaceful dialogue. But he acknowledged that in recent years, as China has rapidly strengthened its military power, the military balance between China and Taiwan has changed in a direction more favorable to China with the gap widening each year.

China’s military activities are concerning on the regional and international front, Hamada said. Japan will continue monitoring and surveilling Chinese military activities, and take all measures to prepare to respond to developments in regard to the Taiwan issue.

Military strength is concentrated in the vicinity of Japan, with neighboring countries like China strengthening their military power and intensifying their military activities, Hamada said. This is an urgent issue for Japan, particularly with the Chinese military recently conducting large-scale military exercises around Taiwan, and launching ballistic missiles in training waters set up near Japan.

In line with the goal of strengthening defense in the southwest region, Japan has so far deployed units to Yonaguni Island, Amami Oshima Island, and Miyako Island, and will also deploy units to Ishigaki Island within this fiscal year. Four anti-aircraft units operating the Patriot system have been deployed to the southwest region, mainly in Naha, to respond to various airborne threats, including ballistic missiles, said Hamada.

This is Hamada’s second time in the defense minister position, as he previously served as from September 2008 to September 2009. He replaced Nobuo Kishi this week due to Kishi’s undisclosed health condition – which saw him confined to a wheelchair – and the controversies surrounding the links between Kishi and other Japanese politicians, including his late brother, former Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and political funding support from the Unification Church. Abe’s assassination reportedly highlighted ties between Japanese politicians and the Unification Church. Kishi was appointed as an adviser to Prime Minister Kishida.

Meanwhile, Japan’s Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) mission continues steadily with a flurry of activities.

The first surface unit of IPD22, which includes helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami (DD-110), conducted a number of exercises after completing its participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise and its departure from Hawaii. On Aug. 5, Izumo conducted a goodwill exercise with the Mexican Navy contingent participating in RIMPAC, frigate ARM Juárez (POLA-101) and landing ship tank ARM Usumacinta (A412), while Takanami performed a goodwill exercise with Chilean Navy frigate Almirante Lynch (FF07) the same day.

On Sunday, both Japanese ships then conducted replenishment exercises with replenishment ship USNS Pecos (T-AO‑197), followed by a Tuesday exercise with Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338) and Royal New Zealand Navy replenishment ship HMNZS Aotearoak. Both the Canadian frigate and New Zealand replenishment ship also participated in RIMPAC. Winnipeg deployed with frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH331) for RIMPAC, and both Canadian ships are now headed west to the Indo-Pacific for separate deployments to the region.

The second surface unit of the IPD22 deployment, destroyer JS Kirisame (DD-104), is currently operating in the Pacific Islands. On Monday, Kirisame conducted a Japan-U.S.-Solomon Islands goodwill exercise with Royal Solomon Island Police Force patrol boat RSIPV Taro (06) and Littoral Combat Ship USS Oakland (LCS-24). A Japan-U.S. bilateral exercise with Oakland also took place in the vicinity of Solomon Islands. Kirisame arrived in Vanatu on Thursday for a port visit.

United Kingdom Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Spey (P234), currently in Fiji, is conducting various taskings in the region, including assisting Pacific Islands nations in countering illegal fishing and criminal activities.

Spey’s sister ship, HMS Tamar (P233), is operating in the South China Sea, after making a port visit to Manila on Wednesday. Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Perth (FFH157) is also in the South China Sea having after docking on Tuesday at Royal Malaysian Navy base Kota Kinabalu.

Royal Australian Navy destroyer HMAS Sydney (DDG42) is also in the region, while the RAN RIMPAC contingent that includes landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02), frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) and replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195) are now heading back to the Indo-Pacific.

Navy Recovers F/A-18E Super Hornet Blown off Deck of USS Harry S. Truman

The F/A-18E Super Hornet blown off the deck of an aircraft carrier was recovered 9,500 feet under the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. 6th Fleet announced on Monday. The single-seat Super Hornet assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1 aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) was knocked off the deck of the carrier in what the Navy at […]

Aviation Boatswain’s Mate (Handling) 1st Class Zuani Batista, from the Dominican Republic, directs the pilot of an F/A-18E Super Hornet, attached to the “Blue Blasters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 34, on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Harry S. Truman (CVN 75), April 14, 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

The F/A-18E Super Hornet blown off the deck of an aircraft carrier was recovered 9,500 feet under the Mediterranean Sea, U.S. 6th Fleet announced on Monday.

The single-seat Super Hornet assigned to Carrier Air Wing 1 aboard USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75) was knocked off the deck of the carrier in what the Navy at the time called “unexpected heavy weather” during the midst of an underway replenishment.

A “team from Task Force (CTF) 68, Naval Sea Systems Command’s Supervisor of Salvage and Diving (SUPSALV), Harry S. Truman, Naval Strike Fighter Wing Atlantic, and U.S. 6th Fleet embarked on the multi-purpose construction vessel MPV Everest,” oversaw the Aug. 3 recovery, according to the statement from 6th Fleet.
“The aircraft was recovered using a CURV-21 remotely operated vehicle to attach specialized rigging and lift lines to the aircraft. A lifting hook was attached to the rigging to raise the aircraft to the surface and hoist it aboard Everest.”

The recovery team included members from Phoenix International, the maritime salvage company that aided in the recovery of an F-35C Lightning II Joint Strike Fighter from the Pacific following a January crash aboard USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70). A similar team, including Navy salvage personnel, recovered the fighter from a depth of 12,500 feet using a CURV-21.

The Navy took the recovered Super Hornet to an unspecified military base in Europe and will eventually transport the jet to the U.S. While 6th Fleet did not provide details, Everest docked in Sicily, near Naval Air Station Sigonella, the day after the recovery in Augusta, according to ship tracking data.

The incident is still under investigation. The service has yet to identify the squadron to which the Super Hornet belonged.

Truman deployed from the East Coast in December and since then has been operating almost exclusively in the Mediterranean Sea. In a visit earlier this year, officials aboard Truman told USNI News the air wing was flying 60 to 90 sorties a day as part of ongoing deterrence missions along NATO’s eastern front.

USS Ronald Reagan Makes First Port Visit to Singapore Since 2019

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) pulled into Singapore last week for its first port visit to the nation in three years, the Navy announced. The carrier, which is forward-deployed in the region and based in Yokosuka, Japan, pulled into Singapore on Friday with one of its escorts, cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54), according to a U.S. 7th […]

The U.S. Navy’s only forward-deployed aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN 76), pulls in to Changi Naval Base, Singapore for a scheduled port visit. U.S. Navy Photo

USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) pulled into Singapore last week for its first port visit to the nation in three years, the Navy announced.

The carrier, which is forward-deployed in the region and based in Yokosuka, Japan, pulled into Singapore on Friday with one of its escorts, cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54), according to a U.S. 7th Fleet news release.

“Prior to arrival, USS Ronald Reagan operated in the South China Sea where it conducted maritime security operations, including flight operations with fixed and rotary-wing aircraft, maritime strike training, coordinated tactical training between surface and air units, as well as replenishments and fueling at-sea,” the release reads.

As Reagan left Yokosuka for its annual spring patrol in May, both the Russian and Chinese navies were active in the Indo-Pacific region, particularly around Japan, USNI News previously reported. While their activity has waned in recent week’s, both the Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy had ships operating near Japan last week.

Reagan‘s visit to Singapore comes as U.S. Navy ships have started making port calls again after two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, which prevented ships from their usual port stops.

Ronald Reagan Sailors and those embarked from Carrier Air Wing 5, Destroyer Squadron 15 and the entire strike group have shown their drive and dedication to the mission in the South China Sea, proving our commitment to a free and open Indo-Pacific region,” Rear Adm. Michael Donnelly, the Carrier Strike Group 5 commander, said in the news release. “The chance to make port in Singapore underscores the value of visits with our allies and partners in the region that enable us to work together and build impactful, trusting relationships that only our presence can foster.”

The Japan-based carrier typically makes two shorter patrols a year, with a winter maintenance availability in Yokosuka.

Japanese Defense Minister: China, Taiwan Military Balance Shifting in Beijing’s Favor

The military balance between China and Taiwan is shifting in China’s favor, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Friday. Speaking at his regular press conference at the Ministry of Defense, Kishi said the security environment around Japan is becoming severe at an unprecedented speed, as Japan released its annual defense white paper the same day, […]

Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (16) refuels underway during a December 2021 deployment. PLAN Photo

The military balance between China and Taiwan is shifting in China’s favor, Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said Friday.

Speaking at his regular press conference at the Ministry of Defense, Kishi said the security environment around Japan is becoming severe at an unprecedented speed, as Japan released its annual defense white paper the same day, highlighting the threats posed to Japan by Russia, China and North Korea, while Chinese and Russian ships continue to operate around Japan this week.

With the military balance increasingly in China’s favor, Kishi said China’s ability to exert pressure on Taiwan is further strengthened, though this in turn has led the international community to support Taiwan and strengthened along efforts to ensure peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait. He also said China has expressed its willingness to use force to unify Taiwan with the mainland.

Since the situation around Japan is quickly becoming serious, Kishi said the Defense Ministry is hoping to secure the necessary budget to allow it to strengthen Japan’s defense capabilities to cope with the situation, adding that the exact increase to the defense budget was under discussion.

The Friday release of the Japanese Defense Ministry’s annual defense white paper, titled Defense Of Japan 2022, included two separate summaries in English and Chinese, respectively. A full English language version of the white paper is normally issued several weeks after the initial release.

In his statement on the white paper’s release, Kishi said the international community is facing its greatest trial since World War II with Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and that Russia’s invasion shook the foundation of the international order. China, he said, continues to unilaterally change or attempt to change the status quo by coercion in the East China Sea and South China Sea and that its ties with Russia have deepened in recent years, with the two countries conducting joint navigations and flights in the areas surrounding Japan. Meanwhile, North Korea has repeatedly carried out ballistic missile launches well into 2022 and defended Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

The white paper echoed similar sentiments while also noting the impact of science and technological developments on security, the increasing importance of space, cyberspace, and electromagnetic domains, along with the need for the international community to respond to climate change. The white paper also stressed the need to develop Japan’s defense capabilities while at the same time increasing its cooperation and partnerships with other nations and further strengthening the Japan-United States alliance.

Chinese and Russian ships continue to operate around Japan, though at a lower frequency in contrast to previous weeks. On Thursday, the Japanese Defense Ministry said in a news release that a People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Shupang-class hydrographic survey ship was sighted on Wednesday at 6:50 p.m. local time sailing northwards in the contiguous zone south of Yakushima Island, part of the Osumi Island group that lies south of Kyushu. At 8 p.m. the ship entered Japanese territorial waters and continued sailing in the waters until it reached the vicinity of Kuchinoerabu Island at 11:30 p.m. the same day. The ship then departed Japan’s territorial waters, sailing in a westward direction.

Map showing movement of the PLAN Shupang class Hydrographic Survey Ship on Wednesday. Photo Courtesy of Japanese Ministry of Defense

The defense ministry did not include the hull number nor did it provide an image of the PLAN ship. In his Friday press conference, Kishi said this was the sixth time a PLAN ship had sailed in Japan’s territorial waters, with the last sail happening in April of this year. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) had monitored the PLAN ship and Japan lodged a protest via diplomatic channels, Kishi said. He added that military activities in the sea and airspace around Japan from the Chinese Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Air Force have expanded and become more active in recent years. 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 Base monitored the PLAN ship, the MOD release said.

The Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defense also issued two other news releases on Thursday, with the first stating that on Wednesday at 6 p.m., a Russian Navy corvette was sighted sailing northeast in an area 40 kilomometers northwest of Rebun Island, which lies 50 kilomters off Hokkaido. An image and hull number provided in the release identified the ship as corvette RFS Gremyashchiy (337). The Russian ship subsequently sailed through La Pérouse Strait into the Sea of Okhotsk while fast attack craft JS Kumataka (PG-827) monitored, the release said.

Map showing movement of Russian corvette RFS Gremyashchiy (337) on Wednesday. Photo Courtesy of Japanese Ministry of Defense

Meanwhile at around midnight on Thursday, a PLAN Dongdiao-class surveillance ship carrying hull number 795 was sighted traveling south in an area 160 kilomters northwest of Uotsuri Island, part of the Senkaku Islands, according to the second release from the Japanese MOD. Dongdiao 795 subsequently sailed south in the area between Yonaguni Island and Taiwan into the Philippine Sea. Japanese destroyer JS Yudachi (DD-103), replenishment ship JS Oumi (AOE-426) and a JMSDF P-3C MPA of Fleet Air Wing 5 stationed at Naha Air Base, Okinawa monitored the PLAN ship.

Map showing movement and image of PLAN Dongdiao 795 on Thursday. Photo Courtesy of Japan Ministry of Defense

On Friday, U.S. aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and cruiser USS Antietam (CG-54) pulled into Singapore for a port visit, with Ronald Reagan docking at Changi Naval Base and welcomed there by Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro. Antietam docked at Sembawang Naval Base.

Del Toro is in Singapore on an introductory trip from Thursday through Saturday, according to a Singapore Ministry of Defense news release.

“Secretary Del Toro’s visit underscores the strong partnership between the Republic of Singapore Navy (RSN) and the US Navy (USN). Both navies interact regularly through bilateral and multilateral exercises, professional exchanges, and cross-attendance of courses,” the news release reads.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia submarine tender USS Frank Cable (AS-40) arrived in Jakarta on Thursday for a port visit.

USS Benfold Transits Taiwan Strait Following South China Sea Freedom of Navigation Ops

USS Benfold (DDG-65) transited the Taiwan Strait Tuesday, less than a week after its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea irked the Chinese government. Benfold‘s transit comes three days after it sailed near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea as part of a freedom of navigation operation, U.S. 7th Fleet […]

Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Benfold (DDG-65) on June 24, 2022

USS Benfold (DDG-65) transited the Taiwan Strait Tuesday, less than a week after its freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea irked the Chinese government.

Benfold‘s transit comes three days after it sailed near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea as part of a freedom of navigation operation, U.S. 7th Fleet said in a press release last week.

“This 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 (PRC), Vietnam, and Taiwan,” according to the 7th Fleet statement.

Benfold sailed near the Paracel Islands last week, prompting ire from Beijing, which sent People’s Liberation Army Navy frigate Xianning (500) to monitor the U.S. destroyer, USNI News previously reported.

It is not clear if Beijing monitored Benfold again.

The warship’s operations in the South China Sea have caused China to claim the U.S. is being hypocritical in their policies, according to a People’s Daily story on the recent operations. China is holding maritime exercises in the South China Sea from Sunday to Wednesday, according to the same story.

Benfold followed international law in operating around the Spratly Islands, according to the 7th Fleet statement.

“Unlawful and sweeping maritime claims in the South China Sea pose a serious threat to the freedom of the seas, including the freedoms of navigation and overflight, free trade and unimpeded commerce, and freedom of economic opportunity for South China Sea littoral nations,” according to the statement.

Benfold is part of the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group, which was operating in the South China Sea, according to USNI News’ Fleet Tracker.

U.S. Navy Ship Again Sails Near Disputed S. China Sea Island

BEIJING, July 16 (Reuters) – A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near the disputed Spratly Islands on Saturday, the U.S. Navy said, its second such “freedom of navigation” operation in a week in the South China …

BEIJING, July 16 (Reuters) – A U.S. Navy destroyer sailed near the disputed Spratly Islands on Saturday, the U.S. Navy said, its second such “freedom of navigation” operation in a week in the South China Sea....