Chinese Carrier Liaoning Strike Group Steaming Near Japan, Says MoD

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) dispatched an eight-ship carrier group, led by the carrier CNS Liaoning (16) and accompanied by five destroyers, a frigate and a replenishment ship, into the Pacific Ocean via transit of the Miyako Strait Monday, marking the first time since December 2021 that the carrier has operated in the area. […]

Chinese ships operate off the coast of Japan on May 2, 2022. Japanese MoD Images

The People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) dispatched an eight-ship carrier group, led by the carrier CNS Liaoning (16) and accompanied by five destroyers, a frigate and a replenishment ship, into the Pacific Ocean via transit of the Miyako Strait Monday, marking the first time since December 2021 that the carrier has operated in the area.

The Joint Staff Office (JSO) of the Japan Self Defense Force (JSDF) issued a release Monday on the group’s passage along with photographs of the ships in the group, identifying them by class and pennant number.

Along with Liaoning, the ships in the group are the Type 055 destroyer CNS Nanchang (101), Type 052D destroyers CNS Xining (117), CNS Urumqi (118) and CNS Chengdu (120), Type 052C destroyer CNS Zhengzhou (151), Type 054A frigate CNS Xiangtan (531) and Type 901 fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901).

Liaoning together with Nanchang, Xining, Urumqi, Chengdu and Hulunhu were sighted sailing south in an area 350km west on the uninhabited Danjo Islands in the East China Sea around midnight Sunday, according to the Joint Staff Office’s release. At 6 p.m. Sunday, Xiangtan was sighted sailing eastward in an area 480km northwest of Okinawa. On Monday, Zhengzhou was sighted traveling south, 160km north of Taisho Island. The PLAN ships subsequently sailed south together through the Miyako Strait.

The Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) together with JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 4, based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu, and P-3C Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5, based out of Naha Air Base, Okinawa, conducted monitoring of the PLAN ships, according to the release. Liaoning conducted helicopter operations while in the East China Sea.

Chinese naval spokesperson Gao Xiucheng said the Liaoning group is conducting training in the western Pacific Ocean and that it was a routine training organized by the Chinese navy, according to its annual plan and in line with relevant international law and international practice, China’s Xinhua news agency reported Tuesday.In December last year, Liaoning along with other PLAN ships conducted flight operations in the vicinities of Kita Daito and Oki Daito islands in the Pacific Ocean. Japan now plans to have a mobile radar station based on Kita Daito Island and is considering moving towards permanent radar stations on the Daito Islands to monitor foreign naval activities and transits in the area.

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

Littoral Combat Ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) is now in Singapore at Changi Naval Base, arriving on Tuesday to carry out a planned maintenance availability (PMAV) period while in Singapore, according to a 7th Fleet release

“Having Jackson once again using Changi Naval Base as the site for maintenance is a significant milestone and gives operational commanders increased adaptability for maintaining and operating ships,” said Rear Adm. Chris Engdahl, commander, Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7/Task Force 76 in the release. “We are thankful for our defense relationship with the Republic of Singapore and their willingness to host our ships as we strive toward a common goal of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The Royal Navy Offshore Patrol Vessel HMS Spey (P234) arrived in Singapore Friday at Sembawang Naval Installation to join sister ship HMS Tamar (P233). Both Royal Navy vessels are on a five-year deployment to the Indo-Pacific region as part of an overall UK policy to strengthen its presence in the region.

Chinese Carrier Group Drills in Pacific Ocean; Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group Wraps Up Exercise with Australia

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – A six-ship People’s Liberation Army Navy carrier group led by aircraft carrier Liaoning (16) is currently operating in the Pacific Ocean, according to releases from the Japanese military. The PLAN carrier group featuring Liaoning, destroyer Nanchang (101), a Luyang III-class destroyer, frigate Rizhao (598) and another Type 54A Jiangkai II frigate, […]

China’s aircraft carrier Liaoning takes part in a military drill of Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) Navy in the western Pacific Ocean, April 18, 2018. PLA Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – A six-ship People’s Liberation Army Navy carrier group led by aircraft carrier Liaoning (16) is currently operating in the Pacific Ocean, according to releases from the Japanese military.

The PLAN carrier group featuring Liaoning, destroyer Nanchang (101), a Luyang III-class destroyer, frigate Rizhao (598) and another Type 54A Jiangkai II frigate, along with a Type 901 replenishment ship, was in the vicinity of the waters off the uninhabited Oki Daito Island, 315 kilometers, or about 196 miles, southeast of Okinawa on Dec. 20, the Joint Staff Office of the Japan Self-Defense Force said in a Tuesday news release.

The carrier was conducting flight operations with J-15 fighter aircraft along with Z-9 and Z-18 helicopters from 8 a.m. until 7 p.m. that day. The JSO issued an earlier release on the same day that noted the activity of the PLAN carrier group on Dec. 19, saying it was in the vicinity of Kita Daito Island, 300 kilometers, or about 186 miles, east of Okinawa and conducting flight operations from 8 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Liaoning, Nanchang, Rizhao and the Type 901 replenishment ship were sighted in the area west of the Danjo Islands in the East China on Dec. 15, traveling southeast with the four ships, then operating between Miyako Island and Okinawa on Dec. 16 and sailed southwards into the Pacific Ocean from the East China Sea, according to a news release the JSO issued on Friday. Helicopters were conducting flight operations throughout the two days, the JSO said. Although the releases made no mention of it, it is likely that the unnamed Luyang III-class destroyer and Jiangkai II frigate were already operating in the Pacific Ocean and subsequently joined the four ships there.

Friday’s release also said the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer helicopter carrier Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer Akizuki (DD-115) – along with 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 – were monitoring the passage of the PLAN ships on the 15th and 16th. Tuesday’s releases noted that Izumo was monitoring the PLAN carrier group and that Japan Air Self-Defense Force fighters had been scrambled in response to the carrier launching fighter aircraft.

An MH-60S Sea Hawk, assigned to the “Black Knights” of Helicopter Sea Combat Squadron (HSC) 4, flies next to Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) while transiting the Indian Ocean during a bilateral training exercise with the Royal Australian Air Force, Dec. 17, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy’s Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group continues it deployment in the Western Pacific ,with the strike group recently finishing a bilateral training exercise with the Royal Australian Navy and Royal Australian Air Force that took place from Dec. 10 through 19 in the Indian Ocean off Australia. The exercise was for both countries “to deploy high-end training tactics and improve proficiencies in advanced kinetic and non-kinetic capabilities, capable of projecting dominant defensives against a multi-domain threat environment,” according to a U.S. 7th Fleet news release.

During the exercise, the forces drilled for scenarios ranging from electronic warfare operations to combined anti-surface and anti-air engagements, 7th Fleet said.

“Conducting advanced kinetic and non-kinetic bilateral exercises with our allies and partners increases our collective ability to outthink and outfight any adversary threatening our open seas,” Rear Adm. Dan Martin, the commander of Carrier Strike Group One, said in the news release. “Our long-term alliances and partnerships in the Indo-Pacific region preserve maritime prosperity and international order, and enable seamless integration, communication, and collaboration across the region.”

Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH-152) approaches Fleet Replenishment Oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) to begin a refueling-at-sea, Dec. 11, 2021, in the Savu Sea. U.S. Navy Photo

HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) represented the RAN with RAAF P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft also participating. Warramunga returned to its homeport at Fleet Base West, Rockingham last week.

The Carl Vinson CSG participating in the exercise included carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106), and replenishment ships USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) and USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194).

U.K. Royal Navy Strike Group Drilling with Oman, UAE in Middle East

KUALA LUMPUR – The United Kingdom Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG 21) is now in the Middle East to conduct engagements before returning home in December. After concluding its participation in a maiden joint exercise with India last week, CSG 21 is in the Middle East to undertake F-35 exercises with Oman and […]

Shabab Oman II and HMS Queen Elizabeth on Oct. 31, 2021. Royal Navy Photo

KUALA LUMPUR – The United Kingdom Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG 21) is now in the Middle East to conduct engagements before returning home in December.

After concluding its participation in a maiden joint exercise with India last week, CSG 21 is in the Middle East to undertake F-35 exercises with Oman and the United Arab Emirates air forces in the Persian Gulf, according to a U.K. Ministry of Defence news release from Oct. 25. CSG 21 will also perform maritime training alongside the Royal Navy of Oman.

The British Army will be simultaneously taking part in exercises with Royal Army of Oman units, which will link back to the ship to demonstrate interoperability between land and sea forces, the news release said. Other elements of CSG 21 have completed their participation in the group, such as American destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68), which departed on Oct. 19 and is now heading home. Frigate HMS Kent (F78) recently made a replenishment stop in Sri Lanka and conducted an exercise with Sri Lanka’s OPV SLNS Samudura (P261), which is the former USCGC Courageous. (WMEC-622), while Richmond has detached from the main body and is currently in Pakistan on a port visit.

Last week, the U.K. CSG wrapped up a joint exercise with India known as Konkan Shakti 21, which took place from Oct. 21 to 27 with two phases – a land phase between the British and Indian armies in Chaubatia, Northern India and a combined sea and air exercise between the Indian Navy and Indian Air Force (IAF) with CSG 21 in the waters off the Konkan coast in the Arabian Sea. CSG 21 carried out Exercise Konkan earlier this year with the Indian Navy from July 21 to 22 in the Bay of Bengal, prior to its arrival in the Western Pacific.

Beforehand, the Indian Air Force carried out operation engagements with CSG 21 on Oct. 19 and 20, before CSG 21 docked in India for engagement activities and the harbor phase of the exercise. The sea and air phase of the exercise, which begin on Oct. 24 with CSG-21 ships, involved aircraft carrier HMS Queen Elizabeth (R08), destroyer HMS Defender (D36), frigate HMS Richmond (F239), replenishment ship RFA Fort Victoria (A387), Dutch frigate HNLMS Evertsen (F805), and CSG 21’s embarked air complement of F-35B fighters, and Merlin and Wildcat helicopters. The Indian Navy participated with destroyers INS Kolkata (D63), INS Kochi (D64) and INS Chennai (D65), frigates INS Talwar (F40) and INS Teg (F45), replenishment ship INS Aditya (A59), a Scorpene-class submarine and Sea King 42B, Kamov-31 and Chetak helicopters and shore-based MIG-29K fighter aircraft, Dornier and P-8I maritime patrol aircraft. The IAF aircraft deployed Jaguar attack aircraft and SU-30 MKI fighters along with electronic attack, command and control and tanker aircraft.

Participating units were split into two opposing forces, with the aim of achieving sea control for land ground troops at a pre-designated site, the Indian Ministry of Defence said in a news release last week.

One force led by the Indian Navy Western Fleet was comprised of the flag ship Chennai, other warships of the Indian Navy and Richmond. The other force operated under Queen Elizabeth and consisted of the remaining CSG 21 and Indian Navy ships.

The two forces’ drills included replenishment-at-sea approaches, air direction and strike operations with fighter aircraft comprised of the MiG 29Ks and F-35B Joint Strike Fighters, and cross control of helicopters.

The forces also simulated induction of Army troops, followed by setting up a joint command operations center. The two forces then conducted a rendezvous at sea with advanced air and subsurface exercises.

 

Meanwhile, destroyer HMS Diamond (D34) sailed out of Singapore last week after resolving technical issues that kept the ship from participating in the Five Power Defence Arrangements 50th anniversary display on Oct. 18. Diamond had successfully completed its participation in the FPDA Bersama Gold exercise prior to the incident. In an Oct. 27 answer to parliament about whether technical faults in the Type 45 destroyers escorting Queen Elizabeth jeopardized the carrier’s safety, U.K. Minister for the Armed Forces James Heappey said that “the Ministry of Defence regularly reviews the safety and security of deployments during both the planning and operational stages. Prior to the deployment, the number and type of escorts forming the wider Carrier Strike Group for HMS Queen Elizabeth was carefully considered against the planned scheme of manoeuvre. At no point during the deployment has the safety or security of HMS Queen Elizabeth been impacted by technical faults experienced by HMS Diamond.” The replenishment ship RFA Tidespring (A136) replenished Diamond around October 30 and the two ships are likely now headed to join the main body of CSG 21 in the Middle East.

Meanwhile, submarine HMS Astute (S119), which has operated as part of CSG 21, arrived in Perth, Australia on Friday. The visit is likely tied to the recent Australia-U.K.-U.S. agreement, known as AUKUS, on Australia developing and acquiring nuclear powered submarines via the U.S and U.K.

In other developments, the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group is in the South China Sea. Carrier Strike Group 1 is comprised of the USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) and embarked Carrier Air Wing 2 (CVW 2), cruisers USS Lake Champlain (CG 57) and USS Shiloh (CG 67), and destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG 106). The strike group is conducting bilateral operations there with the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH 184), according to a U.S. Navy news release issued last week. However, tracking on that date showed Kaga with its escort, destroyer JS Murasame (DD 101), making its way down the Malacca Strait and passing the Singapore Strait on Oct. 26. The JMSDF said in a news release on Saturday that the two ships had made a replenishment visit to Changi Naval Base from Oct. 26 to 29.

Kaga and Murasame, with destroyer JS Shiranui (DD 120), form the JMSDF Indo-Pacific Deployment 2021 (IPD21) force, though Shiranui is operating separately from the other two ships. Shiranui recently completed a port call in Haiphong, Vietnam from Oct. 24 to 26. It conducted a training exercise last week with the Vietnam Navy’s patrol boat 266 in the waters around Haiphong. Earlier, on Oct. 19-24, Shiranui conducted joint training with destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76) in the South China Sea.

Destroyer JS Yudachi (DD 103) and Littoral Combat Ship USS Jackson (LCS-6) also operated bilaterally in the South China Sea last week. The two ships formed a Surface Action Group (SAG) while transiting and practiced a range of surface warfare tactics, including flight operations, communications drills and coordinated tactical maneuvering, according to a U.S. 7th Fleet news release.

In the meantime, destroyer JS Akizuki (DD 115), which is on its way back to Japan after completing a Middle East deployment, conducted joint training off of Okinawa with destroyers USS Benfold (DDG-65) and HMAS Brisbane (DDG 41) on Oct. 25. Brisbane subsequently docked at Commander Fleet Activities Yokosuka on Oct. 30 for a replenishment stop. Japan’s Defense Ministry on Oct. 28 announced that Australian frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) is currently conducting monitoring and surveillance activities against illicit maritime activities, including ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean-flagged vessels prohibited by the United Nations Security Council resolutions, in the waters surrounding Japan.

German Navy frigate Bayern (F217), which is on a deployment to the region, is also heading to Japan. Bayern previously made a port call to Guam, where it exercised with Jackson and USS Tulsa (LCS-16) on Oct. 18 prior to the port call.