RIMPAC 2022 Kicks Off in Hawaii With 21 Partner Nation Ships

A total of 21 United States partner nation ships, including one submarine, from 14 countries are now docked at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC 2022) exercise that kicks off today. Twenty-six nations, including the United States as the host, are taking part in the exercise scheduled to […]

Indonesian Navy frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam on June 26, 2022 to participate in the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022. U.S. Navy Photo

A total of 21 United States partner nation ships, including one submarine, from 14 countries are now docked at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam Hawaii for the Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC 2022) exercise that kicks off today.

Twenty-six nations, including the United States as the host, are taking part in the exercise scheduled to go through August 4 in and near the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

The largest contingent is from the Republic of Korea (ROK), which sent three ships and one submarine, followed by the Royal Australian Navy, with three ships. Canada, Japan and Mexico sent two ships each, while Chile, France, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, New Zealand, Peru, the Philippines and Singapore each sent a single ship. Several of the ships included embarked helicopters for the biennial drills.

Although the U.S. Navy has not yet officially issued the list of partner nation ships taking part, official news releases over the past month from the navies and defense ministries of the countries taking part have allowed USNI News to compile the list below:

Australia

  • Landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02)
  • Frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152)
  • Replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195)

Canada

  • Frigates HMCS Vancouver (FFH331) and HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338)

Chile

  • Frigate Almirante Lynch (FF07)

France

  • Frigate FS Prairial (F731)

India

  • Frigate INS Satpura (F48)

Indonesia

  • Frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332)

Japan

  • Helicopter Destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183)
  • Destroyer JS Takanami ((DD-110)

Malaysia

  • Corvette KD Lekir (FSG26)

Mexico

  • Frigate ARM Juárez (POLA-101)
  • Landing ship tank ARM Usumacinta (A412)

New Zealand

  • Replenishment ship HMNZS Aotearoa (A11)

Peru

  • Corvette BAP Guise (CC-28) – corvette

The Philippines

  • Frigate BRP Antonio Luna (FF-151)

Republic of Korea

  • Landing helicopter platform ROKS Marado (LPH-6112)
  • Destroyers ROKS Sejong the Great (DDG-991) and ROKS Munmu the Great (DDH-976)
  • Attack submarine ROKS Shin Dol-seok (SS-082)

Singapore

  • Frigate RSS Intrepid (69)

Thirty-eight surface ships, four submarines, nine national land forces, over 170 aircraft and about 25,000 personnel will take part in the drills, according to a U.S. 3rd Fleet news release about RIMPAC 2022.

Countries participating include Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, Colombia, Denmark, Ecuador, France, Germany, India, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, the Netherlands, New Zealand, Peru, the Republic of Korea, the Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Tonga, the United Kingdom and the United States. Countries not represented by ships at the exercise will be represented by ground elements, along with participation either in the various combined command and staff groups or as observers.

Royal Canadian Navy frigate HMCS Vancouver (FFH 331) arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam to participate in Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022, June 28. U.S. Navy Photo

Four countries – Australia, India, Japan and the ROK – have confirmed that their fixed wing aircraft will join, with two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8 Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA), an Indian Navy P-8I MPA, a Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) P-1 MPA and a Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) P-3 Orion MPA.

Ground elements disclosed include:

  • A Joint Landing Force from Australia, which will have a platoon from His Majesty’s Armed Forces of Tonga, an Indonesian Marine Corps platoon, a Mexican Marines company, and a New Zealand Army Joint Fires Team that will include Joint Terminal Attack Controllers.
  • The ROK will field a substantial ground element with a ROK Marine Corps company, four Naval Special Warfare Flotilla teams and a Naval mobile construction squadron.

A Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JGSDF) element of 40 personnel will also participate in RIMPAC, though Japan has yet to specify what the JGSDF element will be doing in the exercise.

Prior to Tuesday, a number of the ships taking part in RIMPAC carried out joint sailing and exercise activities. Canadian frigates Vancouver and Winnipeg, Chilean frigate Almirante Lynch and Peruvian corvette Guise – along with U.S. Navy ships that included destroyer USS Michael Monsoor (DDG-1001) – conducted a joint sail from San Diego to Hawaii that included maneuver, gunfire, replenishment and communication exercises.

USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72) pulled into Hawaii on Tuesday ahead of the start of RIMPAC.

After the Abraham Lincoln Carrier Strike Group and the Australian RIMPAC 2022 contingent sailed together last week, Japanese helicopter destroyer Izumo and destroyer Takanami carried out a replenishment exercise with USNS Henry J. Kaiser (T-AO-187) on Sunday before doing a joint exercise with French frigate Prairial on Monday.

Royal Malaysian Navy corvette Lekir also carried out a replenishment exercise with Henry J. Kaiser before docking into Pearl Harbor on Tuesday.

China Denies Harassing Canadian, Australian Patrol Aircraft in the Western Pacific

Beijing is denying that People’s Liberation Army forces harassed Australian and Canadian patrol aircraft in the Western Pacific, claiming that in both cases the aircraft endangered China’s security. Last week, the Canadian Armed Forces issued a statement claiming that on several occasions, while conducting security patrol near North Korea, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force […]

Australian P-8A. RAAF Photo

Beijing is denying that People’s Liberation Army forces harassed Australian and Canadian patrol aircraft in the Western Pacific, claiming that in both cases the aircraft endangered China’s security.

Last week, the Canadian Armed Forces issued a statement claiming that on several occasions, while conducting security patrol near North Korea, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) harassed a Royal Canadian Air Force CP-140.

The RCAF aircrew felt enough at risk that they had to quickly modify their own flight path in order to avoid collision with the intercepting aircraft. The statement stressed that the CAF’s primary concern is the safety of its aircrew and the importance of PLAAF aircraft maintaining a professional distance from CAF aircraft flying a United Nations-sanctioned mission occurring in international airspace. Canada ended the statement by saying diplomatic channels would address the incidents.

The mission, Operation NEON, is Canada’s contribution of naval ships, military aircraft and personnel to a coordinated multinational effort in support of the implementation of U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed against North Korea. The multinational effort consists of surveillance operations to identify suspected North Korean maritime sanctions evasion activities. The CAF deployed a CP-140 Aurora Maritime Patrol Aircraft, along with supporting personnel, to Kadena Air Base, Okinawa from April 26 to May 26.

Chinese officials said the Canadian military aircraft have increased close-up reconnaissance and provocations against China under the pretext of implementing the U.N. Security Council resolutions. The Chinese officials said these occurrences endanger China’s national security and the safety of frontline personnel of both sides.

“China firmly opposes this provocative behavior of the Canadian side,” Senior Colonel Wu Qian, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said in a response to a question from the Chinese media on Monday.
“The Chinese military urges the Canadian military to face up to the seriousness of the situation, strictly discipline its front-line troops and must not conduct any risky and provocative acts, otherwise, all serious consequences arising therefrom should be borne by the Canadian side”.

 

Chinese J-16 in flight. PLAAF Photo

On Sunday, Australia’s Department of Defence said that on May 26, a Royal Australian Air Force P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft was intercepted by a Chinese J-16 fighter aircraft during a routine patrol over the South China Sea. The intercept resulted in a dangerous maneuver that posed a safety threat to the P-8 aircraft and its crew and the Australian government has raised its concerns about the incident with the Chinese government.

“Defence has for decades undertaken maritime surveillance activities in the region and does so in accordance with international law, exercising the right to freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace,” reads the statement.

Australian Defence Minister Richard Marles subsequently provided further details on the incident while speaking to the media on Monday.

“What occurred was that the J-16 aircraft flew very close to the side of the P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft. In flying close to the side, it released flares, the J-16 then accelerated and cut across the nose of the P-8, settling in front of the P-8 at very close distance. At that moment, it then released a bundle of chaff which contains small pieces of aluminium, some of which were ingested into the engine of the P-8 aircraft. Quite obviously, this is very dangerous,” Marles said.

He added that the aircraft had returned to base safely and the crew were unharmed. The Department of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Force had made representations to the Chinese authorities about the incident in which Australia had expressed its concern about what had occurred, and particularly, the manner in which the safety of the Australian aircraft and crew had been placed in jeopardy, Marles said.

The RAAF P-8 in the incident was one of two RAAF P-8s operating from Clark Airbase in the Philippines. The aircraft resumed surveillance flights again on June 3, Australian Defence Magazine reported.

A CP-140 Aurora aircraft flies by Mount Rainier in the State of Washington, USA. Royal Canadian Air Force Photo

One of the RAAF P-8s also took part in exercise Albatros Australia-Indonesia, held in the Makassar Strait between the Australian and Indonesian navies on May 29 and 30. Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Parramatta (FFH154), Indonesian Navy corvette Frans Kaisiepo (368) and an Indonesian Air Force B-737 surveillance aircraft participated in the drills. Parramatta is on a regional presence deployment and is now operating in the South China Sea.

On Tuesday, Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said in response to a Chinese media query about the incident that on May 26, an Australian P-8A entered the airspace near China’s Paracel “for close-in reconnaissance and continuously approached China’s territorial airspace over the Xisha Islands in disregard of repeated warnings from the Chinese side.”

The PLA Southern Theater Command dispatched naval and air forces to identify and verify the Australian plane and warn it off, he said.

“The Australian warplane has seriously threatened China’s sovereignty and security and the countermeasures taken by the Chinese military are professional, safe, reasonable and legitimate,” he said.

Tan said Australia repeatedly disseminates false information and instigates hostility and confrontation, which China rejected.

In February, Australia and China had clashed over the activities of an RAAF P-8 monitoring a PLAN surface task group sailing Australia’s northern Economic Exclusion Zone. Australia claimed a PLAN ship had illuminated the P-8 with a laser from a PLAN ship. China claimed the P-8 had flown close to its ships and dropped sonobuoys near the vessels.

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.

Aussie Big Deck Adelaide Suffers Power Outage During Tonga Aid Operations

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Landing helicopter dock HMAS Adelaide (L01), currently engaged in humanitarian and disaster relief operations in Tonga, has suffered a power outrage, the Australian Department of Defence confirmed today. The outage has not affected the ship’s ability to respond to any requirements in Tonga. The statement from the Australian DOD followed Australian […]

Landing Helicopter Dock HMAS Adelaide sits alongside Nuku’alofa to deliver humanitarian stores and medical supplies as part of OP TONGA ASSIST 22. Australian Defence Department Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Landing helicopter dock HMAS Adelaide (L01), currently engaged in humanitarian and disaster relief operations in Tonga, has suffered a power outrage, the Australian Department of Defence confirmed today.

The outage has not affected the ship’s ability to respond to any requirements in Tonga.

The statement from the Australian DOD followed Australian media reports on the outage. The DOD confirmed that the outage has not impacted food supplies, air conditioning is functioning aboard much of the ship, the sanitation and refrigeration systems are functioning and that the ship is not being towed.

The statement did not say how long the ship has been without power, but Australia’s ABC News reported today that it had been without power for several days already. The DoD statement said the ship turned on back-up power “to restore essential systems.”

“The situation is being closely monitored and the safety of the ship and the embarked personnel remains our highest priority,” the statement said.

“Civilian specialists are on route to conduct an assessment of the affected systems,” it continued.

The power loss is the latest problem to hit the Australian ship. On Tuesday, the DoD confirmed that Adelaide had recorded 23 positive COVID-19 cases, all of which were asymptomatic or displaying mild symptoms. Adelaide arrived in Tonga the next day and conducted a contactless unloading of supplies onto Vanu Wharf in Nuku’alofa, Tonga. The ship is currently standing by offshore waiting for any further request by the Tongan government.

HMAS Adelaide prepares to depart the Port of Brisbane with supplies, vehicles and aircraft and sail for Tonga to provide humanitarian supplies and assistance. Australian Defence Department Photo

On the same day, Japan was also forced to temporarily suspend its air transport relief operations to Tonga from Australia due to COVID-19 cases among its personnel. Operations resumed on Saturday after replacement personnel were flown into Australia.

Australia and New Zealand have both also airlifted relief supplies and conducted disaster damage assessment flights by P-8 Poseidons and P-3 Orions, respectively. China and France have also airlifted relief supplies to Tonga.

Australia, France, Japan, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and the United States are coordinating their relief efforts together, while China is operating independently.

New Zealand replenishment ship HMNZS Aotearoa (A11), which has been in Tonga since Jan. 21, has conducted replenishment for U.S. Navy destroyer USS Sampson (DDG-102) and U.K. Royal Navy offshore patrol vessel HMS Spey (P234), both of which have been deployed to Tonga for relief efforts, with Spey conducting a contactless unloading on Wednesday.

https://twitter.com/USNavy/status/1486797420973408260

Tonga is one of the few nations in the world that is COVID-19 free and there are now concerns that personnel assisting in the relief efforts may inadvertently bring the virus to the island nation, where the Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai underwater volcano erupted on Jan. 15. The Tongan government has instituted strict protocols mandating all relief supply deliveries have to be contactless and no personnel are to come into contact with the Tongan residents.

A number of ships delivering relief supplies to Tonga are inbound with the People’s Liberation Army Navy landing platform dock Wuzhishan (987) and replenishment ship Chaganhu (967). Wuzhishan and Chaganhu are the latest PLAN ships to get dispatched to Tonga, having left Guangzhou this morning carrying 1,400 tons of supplies and equipment.

Chinese commercial ships from Fiji delivered aid supplies to Tonga on Thursday. In transit to Tonga are Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force landing ship tank JS Osumi (LST-4001), French Navy patrol vessel FNS Arago (P675) and offshore patrol vessel FNS La Glorieuse (P686), and U.S. Coast Guard cutter USCGC Stratton (WMSL-752). On scene with Adelaide, Aotearoa, Sampson and Spey is New Zealand offshore patrol vessel HMNZS Wellington (P55) and multi-role support vessel HMNZS Canterbury (L421). Aotearoa will be returning soon to New Zealand for other tasking.

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. 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.

French Navy Kicks Off Force-on-Force Drills in Mediterranean with Partner Nations, NATO

KUALA LUMPUR – The French Navy started a major force-on-force operational readiness exercise called POLARIS 21 on Thursday in the western Mediterranean. Polaris 21, which comes from the French name for the exercise — Préparation Opérationnelle en Lutte Aéromaritime, Résilience, Innovation et Supériorité — also includes a segment on the Atlantic coast of mainland France. […]

French Defense Ministry Photo

KUALA LUMPUR – The French Navy started a major force-on-force operational readiness exercise called POLARIS 21 on Thursday in the western Mediterranean.

Polaris 21, which comes from the French name for the exercise — Préparation Opérationnelle en Lutte Aéromaritime, Résilience, Innovation et Supériorité — also includes a segment on the Atlantic coast of mainland France. The French Army and Navy and partner nations Greece, Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, the United States and a NATO element are participating in the drills.

POLARIS 21 is an operational preparation and multi-domain exercise for a high intensity engagement, which is fully in line with the strategic vision of the chief of the armed forces and the Mercator Acceleration 21 plan of French Navy Chief of Staff Adm. Pierre Vandier, according to a French Defense Ministry news release. The exercise will also focus on information and space capabilities.

While the French armed forces retain the capacity to act on their own, the normal framework for their engagement is that of collective action through the strengthening of operational partnerships with many countries, the release said. As such, POLARIS 21 will mobilize all the components of the French Navy, land and air assets of the French Army and the French Air Force, as well as ships and aircraft from partner nations.

POLARIS 21 will involve 23 ships, one submarine, 65 aircraft and 6,000 personnel. The exercise scenario aims to test the multiple capabilities of an air-sea force made up of the French carrier battle group organized around aircraft carrier FS Charles de Gaulle (R91) facing an opposition force gathered around LHD Tonnerre (L9014), which represents the fictitious country Mercure. The Charles de Gaulle group is the Blue Force, while Tonnerre is the Red Force. The opposition force will be reinforced by an air and land element for contesting air-sea space. The exercise will also complete the preparations of the Charles De Gaulle carrier group for its next operational deployment set to begin in February 2022.

POLARIS 21 will began with a warm-up phase on Nov. 18 that will go through Nov. 25. The live exercise phase between the opposing forces will take place from Nov. 25 to Dec. 3.

Units taking part in the exercise are:

Task Force 473 – Blue Force

Carrier Group: Carrier Charles De Gaulle (R91) with an embarked air wing of 20 Rafales (Flottilles 12F and 17F), 2 E2-C Hawkeye Airborne Warning and Control System (Flottille 4F), 1 NH90 Caiman helicopter (Flottille 31F) and 2 Dauphine helicopters (Flottille 35F). American destroyer USS Porter (DDG-78), French frigates FS Alsace (D656) and FS Provence (D652), Greek frigate HS Adrias (F459), Italian frigate ITS Carlo Bergamini (F590), Spanish frigate ESPS Méndez Núñez (F-104) and support from a U.S. Navy P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft.

Surface Action Group: French frigate FS Aquitaine (D650) in the Atlantic and frigate FS Aconit (F713) in the Mediterranean.

Maritime Patrol Aircraft: Atlantique 2 Maritime Patrol Aircraft operating from Lann-Bihoué Naval Air Base, France.

Replenishment Support: French replenishment ship FS Marne (A630) and Spanish replenishment ship ESPS Cantabria (A15).

Naval Special Action Capability: French Support Ship FS Loire (A602).

Mine Warfare Group: French Minehunters FS Orion (M645) and FS Lyre (M648), with and explosive ordnance disposal group.

Task Force 472 – Red Force (Mercure)

Amphibious Group: LHD Tonnere (L9014) with an embarked tactical group of the13th Demi-Brigade of the Foreign Legion (13e DBLE), French destroyer FS Forbin (D620), U.K. destroyer HMS Dragon (D35) and French frigate FS Auvergne (D654).

Surface Action Group: Destroyer FS Latouche-Tréville (D615) in the Atlantic, while Offshore Patrol Vessels FS Commandant Birot (F796) and FS Commandant Ducuing (F795) will both operate in the Mediterranean.

Maritime Patrol: Atlantique 2 operating from Sigonella NATO Air Base in Italy.

Replenishment: U.S replenishment ship USNS John Lenthall (T-AO-189).

Mine Warfare: Minesweeper FS Achéron (A613).

Ground-Based Air Defense: French Air Force Mamba mobile surface-to-air missile battery with Giraffe mobile radar, French Army Mistral Man-portable Air Defense System (MANPADS) of the 54th Artillery Regiment.

Air Capability: French Navy Rafales (Flottille 11F) operating from De Hyères Naval Air Base, France, French Air Force Rafales, Dassault Mirage 2000 aircraft and Alpha Jets.

In addition, a French Navy submarine and a NATO E-3F AWACS will operate with both forces alternately during the exercise.

U.S. and Japanese Ships Hold Anti-Submarine Warfare Drills in the South China Sea

KUALA LUMPUR – Japanese and U.S. fleets met this week for a first-ever anti-submarine warfare exercise in the South China Sea, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force said today. Helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH-184) and destroyer JS Murasame (DD101) with their embarked SH-60J helicopters, an unnamed Oyashio-class submarine and a P-1 Maritime Patrol aircraft conducted an […]

USS Milius (DDG-69) and an unidentifed Japan Maritime Self Defense Force submarine on Nov. 16, 2021. JMSDF Photo

KUALA LUMPUR – Japanese and U.S. fleets met this week for a first-ever anti-submarine warfare exercise in the South China Sea, the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force said today.

Helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH-184) and destroyer JS Murasame (DD101) with their embarked SH-60J helicopters, an unnamed Oyashio-class submarine and a P-1 Maritime Patrol aircraft conducted an anti-submarine warfare exercise in the South China Sea with U.S. Navy destroyer USS Milius (DDG-69) and a U.S. Navy P-8A maritime patrol aircraft on Tuesday.

This is the first time a JMSDF submarine conducted an anti-submarine warfare exercise with the U.S. Navy in the South China Sea. Both Kaga and Murasame had conducted an exercise in the South China Sea with Milius last week and subsequently made a port call in Subic, the Philippines over the weekend. Upon departure from Subic, the ships conducted an exercise in the South China Sea with Philippine Navy frigate BRP Jose Rizal (FF-150).

Japan’s Indo-Pacific Deployment 2021 (IPD21) task group left in late August and is scheduled to return to Japan by Nov. 25. The task group also includes destroyer JS Shiranui (DD 120), but Shiranui, like the Oyashio-class submarine, has largely been operating separately from Kaga and Murasame and only joining the other two ships on specific exercises.

The JMSDF issued two news releases on exercises soon taking place in Japan. The first release, issued on Nov. 9, announced that the JMSDF will carry out both an in-house mine warfare exercise and a bilateral mine warfare exercise with the U.S. Navy from Nov. 18 through 28 in the Hyuga Nada Sea off Kyushu. The bilateral exercises will involve 17 JMSDF minesweepers, one minesweeper tender and two JMSDF MCH-101 Mine Counter Measure (MCM) helicopters, while the U.S. Navy will deploy 2 MCM ships along with two MH-53E helicopters.

The second release, issued on Tuesday, announced that from Nov. 21 to 30 in the waters around Japan, a bilateral naval exercise between the JMSDF and the U.S. Navy will take place, along with two multilateral exercises. The first multilateral drill will include the JMSDF, U.S. Navy, the Royal Australian Navy and the German Navy, while the second involves the JMSDF, U.S. Navy, RAN and the Royal Canadian Navy. A total of 20 JMSDF ships and 40 JMSDF aircraft, 10 U.S. Navy ships, two RAN ships, a single RCN ship and a single German Navy ship will take part in these drills.

Currently, RAN frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) and German Navy frigate FGS Bayern (F217) are on monitoring and surveillance patrols in the East China Sea in support of United Nations sanctions on North Korea, while Canada’s HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338) is on a presence deployment to the region and currently on a port visit at White Beach Naval Facility Okinawa. RAN destroyer HMAS Brisbane (D41) is also currently near Japan.

Meanwhile, the U.S. Navy on Monday began the Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) Brunei exercise, which is taking place both in the South China Sea and virtually. U.S. Navy assets participating in the five-day engagement include USS Jackson (LCS-6) and a P-8A Poseidon aircraft, as well as sailors from Special Operations Command Pacific, Naval Special Warfare Command, Special Boat Teams and members of the U.S. Coast Guard.

An unidentified Japan Maritime Self Defense Force submarine on Nov. 16, 2021. JMSDF

The exercise focuses on the full spectrum of naval capabilities and features cooperative evolutions that highlight the ability of U.S. and Brunei to work together towards the common goal of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific maritime security environment, according to a U.S. 7th Fleet news release.

“As the 27th iteration of the CARAT exercise series, 2021 underscores the longstanding role of CARAT to address shared maritime security interests amongst partner navies,” Capt. Tom Ogden, the commodore of Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, said in the release.

Brunei and the U.S. will carry out the at-sea portion of the drills in the South China Sea, according to 7th Fleet.

“During the sea-phase of the exercise, both countries will demonstrate their ability to work together through numerous events including divisional tactics designed to enhance communication as ships sail together in complex maneuvers, a tracking exercise aimed at increasing both navies’ ability to track and pursue targets through the coordinated deployment of surface ships and maritime patrol aircrafts, and search and rescue exercises,” the news release reads.

Earlier, the U.S. Navy conducted the CARAT Indonesia exercise virtually, in Surabaya and in the waters and airspace of the Java Sea from Nov. 1 through 11. U.S. Navy assets taking part in the exercise were Jackson, Expeditionary Fast Transport ship USNS Millinocket (T-EPF 3) and a P-8A Poseidon. Indonesian Navy ships taking part in the exercise were the Indonesian Navy frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332), corvette KRI Diponegoro (365) and fast patrol boat KRI Ajak (653).

Meanwhile, over in Manila, the Russian Navy corvette Gremyashchiy (337), submarines Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (B274) and Volkhov (B603), tanker Pechenga, and tug Alatau pulled into port on Nov. 16 for a replenishment visit. 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. A Russian Ministry of Defense news release said Manila will be the last foreign port the ships will call on during the voyage to their new home base.