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.

UPDATED: Australian Leaders Call for Investigation into Chinese Laser Harassment of Surveillance Aircraft; PLA Denies Wrongdoing

This post has been updated with an additional statement from the Australian government. The Chinese military has denied that a People’s Liberation Army Navy warship used a laser last week to harass an Australian military aircraft, while Australian officials call for an investigation. While China has yet to issue an official response directly to Australia […]

A 2016 image of a Royal Australian Air Force P-8A Poseidon. RAAF Photo

This post has been updated with an additional statement from the Australian government.

The Chinese military has denied that a People’s Liberation Army Navy warship used a laser last week to harass an Australian military aircraft, while Australian officials call for an investigation.

While China has yet to issue an official response directly to Australia on the incident, Senior Col. Tan Kifei, spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, told reporters on Monday that “on February 17, the Australian P-8 anti-submarine patrol aircraft arrived in the airspace surrounding our ship formation, and the nearest distance to our ship was only 4 kilometers. During the entire encounter with the Australian military aircraft, the Chinese warships always maintained safe, standardized and professional operations, in line with relevant international law and practice”.

Tan also showed photos of the Australian P-8 and purportedly a sonobuoy placed in the waters close to the PLAN ships.

“From the photos taken by our ship, it can be seen that the Australian aircraft is very close to our ship, and sonar buoys are also placed around our ship. Such malicious and provocative actions can easily lead to misunderstandings and misjudgements, posing a threat to the safety of ships, aircraft and personnel of both sides,” Tan said.

Tan accused Canberra of spreading false information and made false accusations. “We express our firm opposition to the above-mentioned actions by the Australian side. We demand that the Australian side immediately stop such provocative and dangerous actions, and stop making groundless accusations and smears against China, so as not to affect the overall relationship between the two countries and the two militaries,” he said.

A Headquarters Joint Operations Command storyboard depicting the movements of a PLA-N Luyang-class guided missile destroyer and a PLA-N Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock vessel, including their passage into the Arafura Sea and through the Torres Strait into the Coral Sea. Note the lasing incident against a Royal Australian Air Force P-8 Poseidon maritime patrol aircraft that occurred on 17 February 2022.

Australia’s Defence Ministry on Saturday said a Royal Australian Air Force P-8 Poseidon had been illuminated by a laser from a PLAN ship on Thursday while flying over Australia’s northern Economic Exclusion Zone. The statement did not identify the specific warship, but said it was one of two PLAN ships sailing east through the Arafura Sea to the Coral Sea.

“We strongly condemn unprofessional and unsafe military conduct. These actions could have endangered the safety and lives of the Australian Defence Force personnel. Such actions are not in keeping with the standards we expect of professional militaries,” reads the statement.

Along with the statement, the Australian Department of Defence issued images of the PLAN ships in question and a graphic showing the movements of the two ships, along with two additional PLAN ships, identifying the units only by class. The two ships involved in the incident were identified as a Luyang-class destroyer and a Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock, with the pennant numbers of the ships identifying them as destroyer CNS Hefei (174) and amphibious transport dock CNS Jinggang Shan (999).

The graphic showed that Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Arunta (FFH 151) observed a Jiangkai-class frigate and a Fuchi-class replenishment ship off South Sulawesi on Feb. 11, while Hefei and Jinggang Shan had been detected south of Java on Feb. 12. Two days later, the four PLAN ships were observed sailing together southwest of Timor-Leste by patrol boat HMAS Launceston (ACPB 94), with the four ships observed sailing in the Timor Sea by a P-8. The Jiangkai-class frigate and the Fuchi-class replenishment ship appeared to have split away from Hefei and Jinggang Shan during the time of the incident on Thursday and the Australian Defence Ministry made no mention of their subsequent locations. Hefei and Jinggang Shan crossed the Torres Strait into the Coral Sea on Friday while patrol boat ADV Cape Inscription (320) and the Australian Army’s Regional Force Surveillance Group observed their movements.

Australia’s Ministry of Defence issued an additional statement on Tuesday in which it
stated that the use of sonobuoys for maritime surveillance was common practice and that the
sonobuoys had not been dropped prior to the lasing incident but only after it and these had
been dropped a significant distance ahead of the PLAN ship and that the P-8 was acting
within international law at all times.

It also stated that at the time of the lasing incident the P-8 was approximately 7.7
kilometers from the PLAN vessel and was flying at an altitude of 457m and that the closest
the P-8 flew to the PLAN vessel was approximately 4 kilometers adding that this was a
standard flight profile for RAAF maritime patrol aircraft for a visual investigation of a
surface vessel.

Australia expects all foreign vessels entering our maritime zones to abide by
international law, particularly the UNCLOS said the statement and added that Australia
supports and respects the rights of all states to exercise lawful freedom of navigation and
overflight in international waters and airspace. Australia does not engage in the spread of
misinformation or disinformation concluded the statement.

Both Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison and Defence Minister Peter Dutton have made statements over the weekend and today in various media outlets condemning the incident and calling for an explanation.

In a press conference on Monday in Relbia, Tasmania, Morrison said the incident was unacceptable and that Australia has demanded an investigation.

“We expect China to provide some answers on those matters and we are going through those appropriate channels to achieve that. And we expect, and not just Australia, all countries in the region demand an answer to this because it’s an Australian surveillance aircraft this time. Who’s next? And so it’s very important that China explain themselves for this act of recklessness in our exclusive economic zone. They had every right to be there and traveling through those waters. Just as Australian vessels has every right to be up through the South China Sea, as well as the British and the Americans and the Japanese and the French and the Germans Canadians and everyone else sails through there. But it’s not okay to be doing what occurred there and we expect a full explanation,” he said.

A PLA-N Luyang-class guided missile destroyer (left) and a PLA-N Yuzhao-class amphibious transport dock vessel leave the Torres Strait and enter the Coral Sea on 18 February 2022. Australian MoD Photo

In an interview with the Australian ABC News on Monday, Defence Minister Peter Dutton said Australia had not yet received a formal response from China that he would write to his counterpart today, adding that it was a concerning act.

“It cannot only disrupt some of the radar systems within the P8 surveillance plane, but it can blind the RAAF crew. This is a military grade laser system. It’s a deliberate act and it’s an unwelcome one and it’s an unprofessional act, an unsafe act, and that’s why we’ve called it out and we hope that by calling it out there’s a greater deterrence that it won’t happen in the future,” he said, adding that the two PLAN ships were in Australia’s EEZ and Australia was well within its rights to conduct surveillance on the ships.

In other developments, ALPACI, or France Pacific Command, issued a tweet today showing French Navy frigate FS Vendémiaire (F734) conducting operations in the South China Sea while a PLAN Jiangkai-class frigate watched.

Vendémiaire is on a regional deployment and on Saturday was replenished by U.S. replenishment ship USNS Guadalupe (T-AO-200). It will eventually head to Japan to take part in the United Nations’ monitoring of sanctions against North Korea.

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. Vinson Carrier Strike Group Drills with Japanese Force in South China Sea

KUALA LUMPUR – While the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) has departed the Western Pacific, there is still a significant amount of maritime activity from deployed naval groups The main body of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Indo-Pacific Deployment 2021 (IPD21) task group, which includes JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH-184) and JS […]

Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Shiloh (CG 67), U.S. Navy Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG 57), U.S. Navy Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN 70), U.S. Navy Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Milius (DDG 69), Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) Murasame-class destroyer JS Murasame (DD 101), and JMSDF Izumo-class helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH 184) transit together in the South China Sea on Oct. 30, 2021. US Navy Photo

KUALA LUMPUR – While the United Kingdom’s Carrier Strike Group 21 (CSG21) has departed the Western Pacific, there is still a significant amount of maritime activity from deployed naval groups
The main body of the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Indo-Pacific Deployment 2021 (IPD21) task group, which includes JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Kaga (DDH-184) and JS Murasame (DD101), carried out joint training in the South China Sea with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group from Oct. 29 through Nov. 3. The American CSG includes carrier 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 Milius (DDG-69).

Rear Adm. Dan Martin, the commander of Carrier Strike Group 1, came aboard Kaga for a meeting with Rear Adm. Ikeuchi Izuru, the commander of Escort Flotilla 3, according to an Oct. 30 JMSDF news release. The two commanders discussed the significance of the joint activities of Japanese and U.S. naval forces in the South China Sea.

Following the training, Kaga and Murasame then made a port call in Cam Ranh, Vietnam from Nov. 5 to 7 and conducted an exercise with the Vietnam People’s Navy (VPN) frigate Đinh Tiên Hoàng (HQ-011) upon departure.

Meanwhile, the remaining JMSDF ship of the IPD 21 task group, destroyer JS Shiranui (DD-120), conducted joint training from Oct. 28 through Nov. 4 in the South China Sea, the East China Sea and the Japan Sea with American destroyer USS Higgins (DDG-76) and replenishment ship USNS Big Horn (T-AO-198).

Closer to home, JMSDF replenishment ship JS Oumi (AOE-426) conducted training with American destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105) in the waters off Okinawa last Wednesday. On the same day, USS America (LHA-6) conducted integrated training off the coast of Kyushu with JMSDF helicopter destroyer JS Ise (DDH-182); destroyers JS Harusame (DD 102) and JS Asahi (DD 119); missile patrol boat JS Otaka (PG 826); and minesweepers JS Takashima (MSC 603), JS Harishima (MSC 601) and JS Yakushima (MSC 602).

Meanwhile, several Royal Australian Navy ships have completed their deployments to the Indo-Pacific. Frigate HMAS Ballarat (FFH155) and replenishment ship HMAS Sirius (O266) are now back in Australia after a deployment that saw Ballarat participating in phase two of the Malabar exercise off India and Sirius replenishing RAN and partner nation ships in both the Indian Ocean and Southeast Asian waters.

The deployment is Sirius’s last operational deployment, as the ship will be decommissioned in December. The RAN’s Indo-Pacific Endeavour 2021 (IPE21) task group, comprising of LHD HMAS Canberra (L02) and frigate HMAS Anzac (FFH150), is now heading home. The IPE21 task group departed Australia in late August for a series of engagements with Australia’s partners in Southeast Asia and to participate in the Five Powers Defence Arrangement (FPDA) exercise Bersama Gold. The last official activity for IPE21 was Exercise New Horizon 21 between Anzac and Indonesian Navy frigate KRI I Gusti Ngurah Rai (332) and corvette KRI Malahayati (362). The exercise took place in the Java Sea and Bali Sea from Oct. 31 through Nov. 3.

The Royal New Zealand Navy replenishment ship HMNZS Aotearoa (A11) also returned home, arriving in Auckland on Sunday following an Indo-Pacific deployment that included participating in Bersama Gold. Frigate HMNZS Te Kaha (F77), which was deployed with Aotearoa, is still on deployment. RAN destroyer HMAS Brisbane (D41), currently moored in Japan, and frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) – which is on surveillance patrols in the East China Sea in support of United Nations sanctions on North Korea – are also both still deployed. Brisbane has had a replacement MH-60R Seahawk transported to Japan via a. Royal Australia Air Force C-17 to replace the one it lost in a non-fatal crash in the Philippine Sea in October.

German Navy frigate Bayern (F217) is also in Japan, docking at the Tokyo International Cruise Terminal on Friday, when it was greeted by Japanese Defense Minister Nobuo Kishi, German Chief of Defence General Eberhard Zorn and German Navy Chief Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schönbach. In mid-November, Bayern will begin the first-ever German participation in monitoring and surveillance activities in support of the U.N. sanctions on North Korea. New Zealand announced last week that a Royal New Zealand Air Force P-3K2 Orion aircraft will deploy from Kadena Air Base in Japan to conduct aerial surveillance and monitoring in support of the sanctions. A Canadian Air Force CP-140 maritime patrol aircraft is conducting the aerial mission until mid-November, while a French Navy Falcon 200 is wrapping up its participation in the mission, according to press reports.

Meanwhile, Russian Navy corvette Gremyashchiy (337) and submarines Petropavlovsk-Kamchatsky (B274) and Volkhov (B603) passed through the Singapore Strait on Friday. 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.