Chinese Navy Piracy Patrol Shepherds Fishing Fleet Through Gulf of Aden

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The People’s Liberation Army Navy 39th Escort Task Force carried out a three-day-long escort mission of Chinese fishing vessels through the Gulf of Aden, the People’s Liberation Army Daily reported today. Destroyer Urumqi (118), frigate Yantai (538) and replenishment ship Taihu (889), along with embarked special forces personnel and two helicopters, […]

Undated photo of the People’s Liberation Army Navy frigate Yantir. Chinese MoD Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The People’s Liberation Army Navy 39th Escort Task Force carried out a three-day-long escort mission of Chinese fishing vessels through the Gulf of Aden, the People’s Liberation Army Daily reported today.

Destroyer Urumqi (118), frigate Yantai (538) and replenishment ship Taihu (889), along with embarked special forces personnel and two helicopters, were escorting eight fishing vessels belonging to China Fisheries Co., Ltd. to the southern exist of the Bab el-Mandeb Strait when a suspected pirate speedboat approached the convoy on the morning of Jan. 4. Yantai proceeded to sound a warning siren along with messages via loudspeakers and a Very High Frequency? radio to the boat to turn away. A helicopter with special forces personnel was also launched, which resulted in the boat turning away without further incident.

The 39th Escort Task Force left its home base in Qingdao, Shandong Province, on Sept. 26, relieving the 38th Escort Task Force comprising of the destroyer Nanjing (155), frigate Yangzhou (578) and replenishment ship Gaoyouhu (996), which had departed on their mission on May 15. The PLAN has been dispatching ships to perform escort duties in the Middle East since 2008.

Both Japan and the Republic of Korea also have sent anti-piracy deployments on a regular basis to the region since 2009 to protect commercial ships traveling there, with both countries having their deployed forces also working with the anti-piracy Combined Maritime Task Force 151 (CTF 151). CTF 151 is one of three task forces operated by the multi-national Combined Maritime Forces.

In accordance with U.N. Security Council Resolutions, and in cooperation with CMF coastal states, CTF 151’s mission is to deter, disrupt and suppress piracy and armed robbery at sea and to engage with regional and other partners to strengthen relevant capabilities in order to protect global maritime commerce and secure freedom of navigation. CTF 151 was established in January 2009 with a specific piracy mission-based mandate, currently endorsed under UN Security Council Resolution 2500 and now has been expanded to include conducting wider maritime security operations in support of CMF.

Japan’s deployment to the region requires annual Japanese government approval of a one-year extension to the mission, with Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government approving the latest extension on Nov. 16. Japan’s forces deployed to the region consist of a destroyer along with embarked Japan Coast Guard personnel, while two Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3 Orions operate out of Djibouti. Currently, JS Yudachi (DD-103) serves as the 40th anti-piracy mission with destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106) departing Kure on Sunday as the 41st anti-piracy mission. Samidare will spend a two-week quarantine period operating in Japanese waters before heading off to the Gulf of Aden.

South Korean destroyer ROKS Choe Yeong (DDH-981) and an embarked special operation force is deployed until June 2022. The 34th contingent, on the destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH-976), had its mission cut short in July last year due to a COVID-19 outbreak, which resulted in 272 out of the 301 members testing positive, though all those infected have recovered. The entire contingent was airlifted home while a relief crew sailed the ship home to Jinhae Naval Base, where it arrived in September.

Chinese Carrier Strike Group Liaoning Returns From Deployment

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The People’s Liberation Army Navy Liaoning carrier group returned to its homeport of Qingdao on Dec. 30 after a successful training deployment according to a PLAN official release.  During the 20 days of training, the carrier group crossed the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and entered the Western Pacific via the […]

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

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The People’s Liberation Army Navy Liaoning carrier group returned to its homeport of Qingdao on Dec. 30 after a successful training deployment according to a PLAN official release. 

During the 20 days of training, the carrier group crossed the Yellow Sea, East China Sea and entered the Western Pacific via the Miyako Straits, conducting comprehensive exercises in various fields geared towards enhancing the carrier group formation concept, the release stated. The carrier group sailed towards the Yellow Sea on Dec. 9 where it conducted formation search and rescue and tactical flight and air handling of its embarked JF-17 fighters and Z-9 and Z-18 helicopters. Take-off and landing training was carried out in both the day and the night.

A PLAN J-15 carrier fighter takes off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (16) during a December 2021 deployment in the Western Pacific. PLAN Photo

The carrier group then proceeded to the Western Pacific where training was conducted on the group’s combat capabilities, including air and anti-submarine warfare training, command and control operations, replenishment exercises and force coordination. A PLAN-released photo showed Liaoning (16) conducting a replenishment exercise with a Type 901 replenishment ship.

While the PLAN release did not name the other ships in the carrier group, the Joint Staff Office of the Japan Self Defense Force stated that Liaoning, destroyer Nanchang (101), frigate Rizhao (598) and a Type 901 replenishment ship had been sighted in the area west of the Danjo Islands in the East China on Dec. 15, traveling southeast, then operating between Miyako Island and Okinawa on Dec. 16 and sailing southwards into the Pacific Ocean.

Russian and Chinese ships on Oct. 23 off the coast of Japan. JMSDF Image

Japan’s press releases stated that on Dec. 19 and Dec. 20 the four ships, together with the destroyer Xiamen (154) and an unidentified Type 54A Jiangkai II frigate, had been conducting activities including carrier flight operations. A Joint Staff Office statement issued Monday said the Liaoning carrier group including the Liaoning, Nanchang, Xiamen, Rizhao and the Type 901 replenishment ship was sighted Dec. 25 sailing northwest between Okinawa and Miyako Island toward the East China Sea.

Throughout the voyage, foreign warships and aircraft had repeatedly monitored, approached and tracked the carrier group, according to the PLAN release. It did not state which country the observing ships and aircraft were from, though the PLAN released a photo showing the JMSDF destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) near

A People’s Liberation Army Navy J-15 carrier fighter takes off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (16) during a December 2021 deployment. PLAN Photo

. The Japanese releases showed that Izumo monitored the Liaoning carrier group throughout its outbound passage from the East China Sea to the Western Pacific. Destroyer Akizuki (DD-115), P-1 maritime patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 1 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu and P-3 Orion MPAs of Fleet Air Wing 5 at Naha Air Base, Okinawa joined Izumo in monitoring the group. In addition, the Japanese releases stated that Japan Air Self Defense Force fighter aircraft were scrambled when Liaoning launched fighter aircraft and helicopters.

While the voyage and activities of the Liaoning carrier group were in compliance with international practices, the activities of the group close to Japan are likely to spark further concern over China’s military activities. In mid-October, after a joint naval exercise, the Russian Navy and PLAN ships conducted a joint sail in international waters east of Japan’s main island of Honshu before splitting off to their home ports, with both countries pledging to conduct further joint naval exercises.