Chinese Navy Ship Operating Off of Australia, Canberra Says

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) intelligence ship is currently operating off the north-west shelf of Australia, the Australian Department of Defence said Friday. Australia’s DoD identified the vessel as China’s Dongdiao-class auxiliary intelligence ship Haiwangxing (792) and released imagery and video of the ship. A graphic of Haiwangxing’s voyage showed […]

People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) Intelligence Collection Vessel Haiwangxing operating off the north-west shelf of Australia. Australian Department of Defence Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) intelligence ship is currently operating off the north-west shelf of Australia, the Australian Department of Defence said Friday.

Australia’s DoD identified the vessel as China’s Dongdiao-class auxiliary intelligence ship Haiwangxing (792) and released imagery and video of the ship.

A graphic of Haiwangxing’s voyage showed the ship crossed Australia’s exclusive economic zone on the morning of May 6. On Sunday, it was approximately 70 nautical miles off the Harold E. Holt Communications Station, in Exmouth, Western Australia, while a Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft monitored the ship.

Harold E. Holt Communications Station provides Very Low Frequency (VLF) communication transmission services for Australian, the United States and Australian-allied submarines.

The Chinese ship continued sailing southwards, and on Monday, it was 150 nautical miles off Exmouth while an RAAF P-8 tracked the intelligence ship. At the same time, HMAS Perth (FFH157) sailed out from port to monitor Haiwangxing but subsequently turned back because the Chinese ship changed its sailing direction on Tuesday morning. Haiwangxing turned north, sailing at a speed of six knots, 125 nautical miles from Exmouth. An RAAF P-8 and an Australian Border Force (ABF) Dash-8 maritime surveillance aircraft monitored the ship.

On Wednesday, Haiwangxing sailed northeast at 12 knots, with the ship approaching as close as 50 nautical miles of the of Harold E. Holt Communication Station, while an RAAF P-8, ABF Dash-8 and ABF patrol vessel ABFC Cape Sorell monitored. Haiwangxing was last spotted on Friday at 6 a.m. local time, approximately 250 nautical miles northwest of Broome Western Australia. An RAAF P-8 and a Maritime Border Command Dash-8 maritime surveillance aircraft monitored the ship on Thursday.

“Australia respects the right of all states to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace, just as we expect others to respect our right to do the same. Defence will continue to monitor the ship’s operation in our maritime approaches,” the Australian DoD said in the news release.

Movements of PLAN Dongdiao AGI-792 near Australia May 8-13 2022. Australian Department of Defence Photo

Meanwhile, over in the Philippine Sea, the PLAN’s CNS Liaoning (16) carrier strike group continues flight operations, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense’s daily news releases this week. Liaoning; 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) sailed into the Pacific Ocean via the Miyako Strait earlier this month.

The carrier and ships in its CSG performed a series of flight operations four days in a row this week. On 9 a.m. Sunday local time, Liaoning, the two Type 052D destroyers and Hulunhu were sighted 160 kilometers south of Ishigaki Island conducting flight operations with its embarked J-15 fighter aircraft and Z-18 helicopters from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m., according to news releases from Japan’s Joint Staff Office.

On Monday, the same ships were seen at 10 a.m. sailing 200 kilometers south of Ishigaki Island, performing flight operations from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Tuesday at 9 a.m., the group was sailing 310 kilometers south of Ishigaki Island, performing flight operations from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. On Wednesday at 9 a.m., Liaoning and two Type 052D destroyers were seen 160 kilometers south of Ishigaki Island, again performing flight operations from 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) has tracked the Liaoning carrier strike group since May 2. Japanese destroyer JS Suzutsuki (DD-117) took over the task of tracking the Liaoning carrier group on Tuesday.

A People’s Liberation Army Navy J-15 carrier fighter takes off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning (16) on May 7, 2022. Japanese MoD Photo

Japan Air Self-Defense Force (JASDF) fighter aircraft scrambled each day in response to the J-15 launches, according to the news release. In a Tuesday press conference, Japan Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi said the Chinese carried out a total of 100 sorties with its J-15s and Z-18s from Liaoning between May 3 and May 8.

While the activities of the PLAN carrier group were likely aimed at improving its aircraft carriers’ operational capabilities and its ability to carry out operations away from home, Kishi said Japan is concerned about the operations given that they were happening close to the Ryuku Islands and Taiwan. The Japanese Ministry of Defense will continue to monitor such activities, he said.

The Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is also operating in the Philippine Sea. Earlier this week, the CSG conducted deterrence missions in the Philippine Sea by performing long-range maritime strike with refueling help from Pacific Air Forces KC-135 Stratotankers, according to a U.S. 7th Fleet news release issued Friday.

An F/A-18E Super Hornet, assigned to the “Tophatters” of Strike Fighter Squadron (VFA) 14, prepares to make an arrested landing on the flight deck of the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN 72) in the Philippine Sea on May 12, 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72), destroyers USS Spruance (DDG-111) and USS Dewey (DDG-105), and cruiser USS Mobile Bay (CG-53) also performed multi-domain training to defend the carrier, according to the news release.

“Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group is a powerful presence in the Philippine Sea that serves as a deterrent to aggressive or malign actors and supports a free and open Indo-Pacific,” Rear Adm. J.T. Anderson, the commander of carrier strike group Three, said in the release. “There is no better way to strengthen our combat-credible capabilities than to work alongside other joint forces to demonstrate our commitment to sovereignty, the region, and a rules-based international order.”

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 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.

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.S. Navy Wraps Up Drills With Partners in Philippine Sea, Strait of Malacca

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The U.S Navy this week completed exercises in the Philippine Sea with multilateral partners and an exercise with Malaysia in the Malacca Strait. The multilateral ANNUALEX exercise hosted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force concluded on Tuesday. The drills also included the German Navy, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal […]

Sailors transit the flight deck of Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70) after debarking a CMV-22B Osprey, assigned to the “Titans” of Fleet Logistic Support Squadron (VRM) 30, Dec. 1, 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – The U.S Navy this week completed exercises in the Philippine Sea with multilateral partners and an exercise with Malaysia in the Malacca Strait.
The multilateral ANNUALEX exercise hosted by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force concluded on Tuesday. The drills also included the German Navy, the Royal Australian Navy and the Royal Canadian Navy.

The U.S. participated with aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG57), destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG106), replenishment ships USNS Rappahannock (T-AO 204) and USNS John Ericsson (T-AO 194) and an unnamed Los Angeles class submarine.

The German Navy participated with frigate FGS Bayern (F217), the RAN with destroyer HMAS Brisbane (D41) and frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152), and the RCN with HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338). Prior to the exercise, Warramunga and Bayern were on separate monitoring and surveillance patrols in the East China Sea in support of United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

JMSDF ships participating in the drills included helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183); destroyers JS Inazuma (DD-105), JS Harusame (DD-102), JS Onami (DD-111), JS Teruzuki (DD-116), JS Asahi (DD-119), JS Yamagiri (DD-152), JS Kirishima (DDG-174) and JS Chokai (DDG-176); replenishment ship JS Oumi (AOE-426) and a JMSDF submarine.

The JMSDF also held an exercise with destroyer JS Abukuma (DE-229) and Peruvian Navy corvette BAP Guise (CC-28) on Monday in the East China Sea. Guise is the former Republic of Korea Navy corvette ROKS Suncheon (PCC-767), which was formally transferred over to the Peruvian Navy on Nov. 26 at the Jinhae Naval Base in Korea in a ceremony attended by the Korean Navy Chief of Naval Operations Adm. Boo Suk-jong and Peruvian Navy Commander-in-Chief Adm. Alberto Alcalá. Guise is the second Pohang-class corvette transferred to the Peruvian Navy. BAP Ferré (CM-27), formerly ROKS Gyeongju (PCC-758), was transferred in 2015. Guise is currently in Yokosuka for a replenishment stop before continuing its voyage home, with the ship expected to arrive in Peru the first week of January 2022.

From left, the Royal Malaysian Navy corvette KD Lekir (F 26) and frigate KD Lekiu (FFG 30) and U.S. Navy Independence-variant littoral combat ship USS Tulsa (LCS 16) sail in formation during Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia 2021. U.S. Navy Photo

Over in the Malacca Strait, the U.S Navy and the Royal Malaysian Navy concluded Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia 2021 on Tuesday. The U.S. Navy participated with the Littoral Combat Ship USS Tulsa (LCS-16) and a P-8A Poseidon, which staged out of the Royal Malaysian Air Force Butterworth in Malaysia. The Royal Malaysian Navy sent frigate KD Lekiu (FFGH30) and corvette KD Lekir (FSG26) for the drills. MTA Malaysia is part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series. The U.S. already completed the Indonesia and Brunei phases of the series earlier in November. MTA Malaysia resumed this year with safety mitigation measures after being cancelled in 2020 due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, in Indonesia, Russia began its first-ever naval exercise with the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN). The focus for the exercise, known as ASEAN – Russia Naval Exercise (ARNEX) 2021, is “Joint Actions to Ensure the Safety of Maritime Economic Activity and Civil Navigations.”

The exercise will continue through Dec. 3 in Indonesian territorial waters off the coast of North Sumatera. Destroyer RFS Admiral Panteleyev (548) will represent Russia, which is the third country after China and the U.S. to hold naval exercises with the regional body. China conducted exercises with ASEAN in 2018 and 2019, while the U.S. held one in 2019. Neither country has participated in additional exercises with ASEAN since 2019 because of the pandemic.

The Vietnam People’s Navy frigate VPNS Ly Thai To (HQ-012) arrived on Sunday at the Belawan International Container Terminal (BICT) in Belawan, North Sumatra for the exercise. Other ASEAN ships participating in the drills are Bruneian OPV KDB Daruttaqwa (09), Indonesian frigate KRI Raden Eddy Martadinata (331), Malaysian frigate KD Lekiu (FFGH30), Myanmar frigate UMS Kyansitta (F12), Singaporean corvette RSS Vigour (92) and Thai frigate HTMS Kraburi (457).

In other developments, Russian Navy corvette RFS Gremyashchiy (337); submarines RFS Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (B274) and RFS Volkhov (B603); tanker RFS Pechenga; and tug RFS Alatau are making their way through the Sea of Japan. The corvette and submarines were previously part of the Russian Navy’s Baltic Fleet and are now en-route to their new home bases as part of Russia’s Pacific Fleet. They linked up with the two support ships prior to making a port call in Manila, Philippines, on Nov. 16. The Russian ships were sighted 170 kilometers south of Iriomote Island at 4 p.m. on Nov. 23 and subsequently moved north in the sea area between Okinawa and Miyako-jima, according to a Tuesday news release from the Joint Staff Office of the Japan Self-Defense Force.

The group sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait, heading for the Sea of ​​Japan on Saturday. Japanese P-1s of Fleet Air Wing 4, stationed at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, and P-3C Orions of Fleet Air Wing 5, stationed at Naha Air Base, monitored the Russian ships’ voyages by air. Japanese destroyers JS Abukuma (DE-229), JS Setogiri (DD-156) and JS Sendai (DE-232); minesweeper JS Kuroshima (MSC-692) and patrol boat JS Otaka (PG-826) shadowed the ships on the surface.

U.S. Begins Exercise Off Japan with Canadian, German and Australian Navies

KUALA LUMPUR – Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the United States are conducting naval drills in the Philippine Sea off the southern coast of Japan for the next week. The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force exercise, known as ANNUALEX 2021, began on Sunday and will continue through Nov. 30. The exercise is a yearly naval training […]

Fifteen ships from the Royal Australian Navy, Royal Canadian Navy, German Navy, Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and U.S. Navy sail in formation during Annual Exercise (ANNUALEX), Nov. 21. U.S. Navy Photo

KUALA LUMPUR – Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the United States are conducting naval drills in the Philippine Sea off the southern coast of Japan for the next week.

The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force exercise, known as ANNUALEX 2021, began on Sunday and will continue through Nov. 30. The exercise is a yearly naval training event led by the JMSDF, with navies from other countries invited to participate in the event. This year’s iteration marks the first time the German Navy is taking part in these drills.

The exercise will “include enhanced maritime communication tactics, anti-submarine warfare operations, air warfare operations, replenishments-at-sea, cross-deck flight operations and maritime interdiction maneuvers,” U.S. 7th Fleet said in a news release.

The Chief of the German Navy, Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schönbach, reiterated in the release his earlier announcement about a regular German Navy deployment to the Indo-Pacific region.

“The German navy will strengthen its commitment to the region through deeper security and defense cooperation with regional partners,” Schönbach said in the news release. “Germany would seek to send a frigate every two years to the Indo-Pacific region with a supply ship.”

German frigate FGS Bayern (F217) is currently on a deployment to the region and participating in the ANNUALEX 2021 exercise. It remains to be seen, however, if the incoming German coalition government that is about to form will support and commit to a regular German naval deployment to the Indo-Pacific.

The U.S. is participating with aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106), replenishment ships USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) and USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) and an unnamed Los Angeles-class submarine.

“ANNUALEX presents an opportunity to strategically coordinate, collaborate and further strengthen our network of partnerships and alliances, enabling us to remain a flexible, adaptable and persistent combined force capable of quickly projecting power, where and when needed,” Rear Adm. Dan Martin, the commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1, said in the release.

Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg’s (FFH338) participation in the exercise is its last major engagement for its presence deployment in the region before the ship sails for home. The Royal Australian Navy is participating with destroyer HMAS Brisbane (D41) and frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152). Prior to the exercise, Warramunga and Bayern were on separate monitoring and surveillance patrols in the East China Sea in support of United Nations sanctions on North Korea.

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

JMSDF units taking part in the exercise include helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183), destroyers JS Inazuma (DD-105), JS Harusame (DD-102), JS Onami (DD-111), JS Teruzuki (DD-116), JS Asahi (DD-119), JS Yamagiri (DD-152), JS Kirishima (DDG-174), JS Chokai (DDG-176) and a JMSDF submarine.

“Many naval forces (United States, Australia, Canada and firstly Germany) will join this JMSDF exercise. I’m very proud to participate in the exercise as a commander of surface forces,” Rear Adm. Komuta Shukaku, the commander of Escort Flotilla 1, said in the 7th Fleet release. “We will strengthen the cooperation among those navies through this high-end tactical exercise.”

In other developments, Malaysia and the U.S. began Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia 2021 virtually and in the waters and airspace of the Strait of Malacca on Tuesday. The exercise, according to a separate 7th Fleet news release, will take place across eight days and emphasize “the full spectrum of naval capabilities and features cooperative evolutions that highlight the ability of the U.S. and Malaysia to work together toward the common goal of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.”

The U.S. Navy will participate with Littoral Combat Ship USS Tulsa (LCS-16) and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft from CTF 72. The Royal Malaysian Navy is expected to deploy frigate KD Lekiu (FFGH30) and corvette KD Lekir (FSG26) for the drills.

“Our commitment to dedicating resources in exercises is a testament to our innate belief in the power of sharing responsibility in ensuring regional security,” Rear Adm. Chris Engdahlb, the commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7, said in the release. “MTA Malaysia 2021 represents another step forward.”

The at-sea portion of the exercise will feature training for “divisional tactics designed to enhance communication as ships sail together in complex maneuver,” 7th Fleet said.
“Other focus areas include surface warfare, mobile dive and salvage training, replenishment-at-sea, a gunnery exercise, and exchanges between Explosive Ordnance Disposal technicians.”

Malaysia and the U.S. will also participate in exchange engagements for subject matter experts to drill for multiple missions ranging from diving and salvage to maritime law and law enforcement, according to 7th Fleet.

“The intergovernmental organization personnel from the European Union’s Critical Maritime Routes Indo-Pacific (EU-CRIMARIO) initiative will provide subject matter expertise aimed to aid in understanding of the operational environment, and 7th Fleet desires to continue this approach in future iterations,” 7th Fleet said.

MTA Malaysia is part of the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) exercise series. The U.S. already completed the Indonesia and Brunei phases of the series earlier this month. MTA Malaysia has resumed with safety mitigation measures after being cancelled in 2020 due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Meanwhile, Russia announced the first-ever Russia-Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN) naval exercise, which will kick off on Dec. 1. The Russian Mission to ASEAN announced the news on Tuesday in a social media post.

Destroyer Admiral Panteleyev (548) will represent Russia in the exercise, which will continue through Dec. 3 in Indonesian territorial waters off the coast of North Sumatera. ASEAN nations have yet to release which of their naval ships will participate. This exercise will make Russia the third country, after China and the U.S., to hold naval exercises with the regional body. China conducted exercises with ASEAN in 2018 and 2019, while the U.S. conducted one in 2019. Additional exercises have not been carried out since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.