People’s Liberation Army Navy Ships Complete Circle Around Japan

A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface group entered the East China Sea on Wednesday, according to a Thursday Japan Defense Ministry release. The surface group completed a near circuit of Japan since they were sighted in the Tsushima Strait on June 12. On Wednesday at 11 p.m., three PLAN ships were sighted sailing northwest […]

Chinese ships operating near Japan on June 24, 2022. Japanese MoD Image

A People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surface group entered the East China Sea on Wednesday, according to a Thursday Japan Defense Ministry release. The surface group completed a near circuit of Japan since they were sighted in the Tsushima Strait on June 12.

On Wednesday at 11 p.m., three PLAN ships were sighted sailing northwest in an area 130 kilometers northeast of Miyako Island, according to the release. Hull numbers and images provided identified the ships as destroyers CNS Lhasa (102) and CNS Chengdu (120) and replenishment ship CNS Dongpinghu (902).

The ships subsequently sailed through the Miyako Strait into the East China Sea. Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Setogiri (DD-156) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion Maritime Patrol Aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, monitored the PLAN ships, the release noted.

The Joint Staff Office release also included a map showing the movements of the three ships with a Dongdiao-class surveillance ship with hull number 794, which was sighted with them in the Tsushima Strait on June 12.

Dongpinghu and Dongdiao 794 sailed east into the Pacific Ocean via the Tsugaru Strait on June 16, while the two destroyers sailed through La Pérouse Strait heading east from June 16 through 17. Lhasa, Chengdu and Dongpinghu were subsequently sighted sailing together on June 19, and the three ships have been sailing together since.

Since Sunday, the JSO has yet to issue any sighting release on Dongdiao 794. Sunday’s news release said 794 was sighted at 1 a.m. that day sailing westwards in an area 90 kilometers northeast of Hachijo Island. The ship subsequently sailed west between Mikura Island and Hachijo Island, part of the Izu Islands group, while monitored by multi-purpose support ship JS Enshu (AMS-4305).

Both Russian and Chinese ships have been operating in the vicinity of the Izu Islands while sailing around Japan in June. A total of seven Russian ships sailed around Japan from June 16-17, and subsequently the PLAN surface group sailed on June 21.

On Thursday, the JMSDF along with the Japan Coast Guard (JCG) held a joint exercise in the waters east of Izu Oshima, which is part of the Izu Islands, possibly in response to the Russian and Chinese activities there. The exercise involved JMSDF destroyers JS Yamagiri (DD-152) and JS Amagiri (DD-154), along with a JMSDF SH-60K helicopter. The JCG units included patrol vessels JCG Akitsushima (PLH-32) and JCG Miyako (PL-201), along with a JCG Super Puma helicopter.

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

“Through this exercise, we improved the skills of the JMSDF and strengthened our joint response capability with the Japan Coast Guard,” the commander of the JMSDF element said in a news release on the exercise.

The JMSDF has been conducting exercises with the Japan Coast Guard for the purpose of strengthening comprehensive response and cooperation, as well as for the regional security of Japan and surveillance of the sea area around Japan.

On Wednesday, the Japan Defense Ministry announced that Royal Australian Navy (RAN) frigate HMAS Parramatta (FFH154) has been conducting surveillance activities in the Sea of Japan in support of United Nations sanctions on North Korea. The release did not specify the time period this activity took place beyond stating it was happened in late June and that this was the seventh surveillance activity the RAN has conducted since 2018.

The sanctions monitoring also includes surveillance by maritime patrol aircraft from various nations, with Canada saying its CP-140 maritime patrol aircraft was harassed by Chinese aircraft while conducting such a mission from April 26 to May 26.

China has denied the actions.

“Canadian military planes used the implementation of UN Security Council resolutions as an excuse to increase their approach to China Reconnaissance and provocation endanger China’s national security,” Senior Colonel Tan Kefei, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense, said during the Ministry’s monthly press conference on Thursday. “China firmly opposes this, and urges relevant countries to stop spreading false information, stop acts that endanger China’s national security and increase tensions in the sea and air, and take concrete actions to maintain regional peace and stability”.

In other developments, Australia’s Defence Department issued a news release on Thursday about Australia’s participation in the Rim of the Pacific 2022 exercise and disclosed that an unnamed Australian submarine was taking part in the exercise.

Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH 152) arrives at Pearl Harbor for Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) 2022 on June 29. Royal Australian Navy Photo

Australia had only previously stated that landing helicopter dock HMAS Canberra (L02), frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) and replenishment ship HMAS Supply (A195) would be its naval units at the exercise.

The release also disclosed the composition of the Australian Joint Landing Force taking part in the exercise, which is embarked on Canberra, saying it was led by the 2nd Battalion, Royal Australian Regiment and accompanied by personnel and capabilities from other Australian Army units. The release said that 1600 Australian Defence Force (ADF) personnel were participating in the exercise. Australia’s participation and leadership in the exercise highlights the nation’s enduring commitment to sovereign security in the Indo-Pacific region, ADF Chief of Joint Operations Lt. Gen. Greg Bilton said in the release.

“RIMPAC demonstrates Australia’s commitment to both the United States and to preserving the freedoms enjoyed by our regional neighbours,” Bilton said in the release. “We face complex strategic challenges in the Indo-Pacific region, and the Australian Defence Force will take every opportunity to assure our friends that Australia has the ability and the intent to stand by its alliances, agreements and bilateral relationships.”

Four submarines are taking part in RIMPAC 2022, though the nationality of only two submarines – the RAN submarine and Republic of Korea Navy submarine ROKS Shin Dol-seok (SS-082) – have been disclosed so far. At least one of the submarines is likely from host nation United States, while the fourth could be either a second U.S. submarine or a partner nation submarine.

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.

Chinese Carrier Liaoning Strike Group Steaming Near Japan, Says MoD

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Friday’s release also said the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force destroyer helicopter carrier Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer Akizuki (DD-115) – along with P-1 maritime patrol aircraft of Fleet Air Wing 1 at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu and P-3 Orion MPAs of Fleet Air Wing 5 at Naha Air Base, Okinawa – were monitoring the passage of the PLAN ships on the 15th and 16th. Tuesday’s releases noted that Izumo was monitoring the PLAN carrier group and that Japan Air Self-Defense Force fighters had been scrambled in response to the carrier launching fighter aircraft.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

German Navy Chief: Frigate Deployment to Indo-Pacific First of Biannual Deployments to Region

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – The current six-month-plus deployment of German frigate FGS Bayern (F217) to the Indo-Pacific is the initial step toward a regular biannual naval deployment to the region, German Navy Chief Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schönbach said today. During his speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies’ 42nd Fullerton Lecture series in Singapore, […]

FGS Bayern at Changi Naval Base, Singapore. German Embassy, Singapore Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA – The current six-month-plus deployment of German frigate FGS Bayern (F217) to the Indo-Pacific is the initial step toward a regular biannual naval deployment to the region, German Navy Chief Vice Adm. Kay-Achim Schönbach said today.

During his speech at the International Institute of Strategic Studies’ 42nd Fullerton Lecture series in Singapore, Schönbach said Bayern’s deployment was to enable the German Navy to familiarize itself with the region, given its last presence here was 19 years ago. He said that, subject to the final decision of the German government, he intends to have German maritime assets deploy to the region on a regular basis, then potentially also in an international format together with European and Transatlantic partner navies.

His intention is to send ships into the region again in 2023.

“This time was just a frigate, as a teaser to prepare for the next time, where there will be two,” the German Navy Chief said.

The 2023 deployment is slated to include a frigate accompanied by an auxiliary ship to support the frigate. Schönbach also said that with the newer F125 Baden-Württemberg-class frigates, the deployment scope could be expanded further, as the ships are capable of remaining in the region for up to two years with a crew rotation in place. The German Navy was in discussions with partners in the region – particularly Singapore along with potentially Japan and South Korea – for the establishment of a non-permanent logistics support hub to facilitate the deployments, Schönbach said.

He noted that while the German Navy would not deploy to the Indo-Pacific in 2022, German Chief of Defence Gen. Eberhard Zorn has announced that German Air Force units, as well as cyber defense units, will deploy to the region in 2022. The Luftwaffe is scheduled to deploy six Eurofighters, three Airbus A330 tankers and three A400M transport aircraft for the Royal Australian Air Force’s Pitch Black multinational air combat exercise, scheduled for Sept. 5 through Sept. 23, 2022 in Australia, though Germany is also said to be talking to other countries in the Indo-Pacific about bilateral exercises next year.

Schönbach said that Bayern’s deployment was in line with Germany’s Indo-Pacific policy guidelines that has Germany committed to step up its security and defense engagement in the region.

“Germany is committed to strengthening the rules-based international order in the Indo-Pacific region to ensure that it remains a place of inclusive cooperation. Germany advocates open shipping routes, open markets and free trade, a level playing field while at the same time promoting digitalization, connectivity and human rights,” he said, adding that the deployment of Bayern is intended to underpin the security aspect of Germany’s commitment in the Indo-Pacific.

FGS Bayern at Changi Naval Base, Singapore. German Embassy, Singapore Photo

During the question and answer session, Schönbach was asked about Bayern not transiting the international waters of the Taiwan Strait. He replied that from the beginning, Bayern was not planning to pass through the Taiwan Strait, as this deployment was a step by step progression for the German Navy after a 19-year absence from the region. Schönbach said he would recommend to the German government that it conduct a transit of the Taiwan Strait during the next deployment.

The German Navy Chief said that while Bayern’s independent deployment with a predominantly bilateral format for its activities may appear to be a contradiction of the German government’s emphasis on multilateralism, it was more beneficial to carry out a bilateral approach, given this was the first deployment.

“I, too, thought long and hard beforehand whether it would be advantageous to sail together with our American, British and/or French partners, integrated into an international naval task group,” he said. “In hindsight I am convinced that it has been a good decision to conduct most of the visits in a bilateral format, in particular as this is the first deployment in this context. By doing so, we have been able to intensify the dialogue with our partners to the benefit of all parties involved.”

Schönbach said that while the integration of a German Navy ship into a U.S., United Kingdom or French carrier task group would make sense both on a practical and logistical basis, doing so would depend on feedback from Germany’s regional partners about Bayern’s deployment. As to whether they preferred Germany to conduct its naval engagement bilaterally or as part of a multilateral group, he said: “We don’t want to be here to demonstrate in a group with others or bringing in a European or NATO problem to this region.”

Earlier today, Schönbach and German Ambassador Norbert Riedel formally welcomed Bayern at Changi Naval Base in Singapore. The ship arrived on Monday. Prior to its arrival in Singapore, Bayern’s previous activities included conducting an exercise with Littoral Combat Ships USS Jackson (LCS-6) and USS Tulsa (LCS-16) in the Philippine Sea in October.

In November, the frigate participated in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s ANNUALEX exercise, which also included participation from the Royal Australian Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the U.S. Navy. Bayern also conducted maritime surveillance and monitoring operations in support of the United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea last month. While voyaging to Singapore from its last port call in Busan, South Korea, Bayern was replenished by USNS Yukon (T-AO-202).

The ship will now remain in Singapore until January 2022, when it will leave for Ho Chi Minh City, Vietnam for its next port call.

Australian, Canadian Navies Wrap Pacific Deployments; U.S. Submarine Shifts Ports to Guam

Australia and Canada have wrapped up their Asia Pacific deployments with the return of their ships home, while a U.S Los Angeles-class submarine has arrived at its new homeport in Guam. Destroyer HMAS Brisbane (DDG41) and frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) returned today to their homeports at Fleet Base East, Sydney and Fleet Base West, Rockingham, […]

Royal Australian Navy Anzac-class frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH-152) transits the Savu Sea after completing a refueling-at-sea with Fleet Replenishment Oiler USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204), Dec. 11, 2021. US Navy Photo

Australia and Canada have wrapped up their Asia Pacific deployments with the return of their ships home, while a U.S Los Angeles-class submarine has arrived at its new homeport in Guam.

Destroyer HMAS Brisbane (DDG41) and frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152) returned today to their homeports at Fleet Base East, Sydney and Fleet Base West, Rockingham, respectively, after completing a three-month regional presence deployment in South East and North East Asia. The deployment included both ships’ participation in the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force’s ANNUALEX 21 exercise, which also included the U.S. Navy, the Royal Canadian Navy and the German Navy.

Warramunga also spent late October and November in the East China Sea conducting Operation Argos, which is Australia’s commitment towards the United Nations Security Council sanctions on North Korea. A multinational force of ships and aircraft have been conducting deployments out of Japan since 2018 to monitor and deter North Korea’s illegal ship-to-ship transfers of sanctioned goods. Brisbane lost its embarked MH-60R Seahawk helicopter in an incident in the Philippine Sea on Oct. 13. The ship successfully rescued the helicopter’s crew. A replacement MH-60R Sea Hawk was transported to Japan via a Royal Australian Air Force C-17 to join the ship in the first week of November.

Prior to arriving home, Warramunga conducted a refueling exercise at sea with USNS Rappahannock (T-AO-204) last week and also drilled with the Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group in the Savu Sea. The Vinson CSG is currently in the Indian Ocean off Australia conducting exercises with the Royal Australian Navy.

The RAN will decommission replenishment ship HMAS Sirius (O266) on Saturday at HMAS Stirling in eastern Australia. Sirius was built as a double-hulled commercial product tanker, M/V Delos, purchased by the Australian government in June 2004 and commissioned into service in September 2006 after receiving modifications for underway replenishment and a flight deck fitting for helicopter operations.

Sirius completed its final deployment in November, which included participation in the second phase of the Quad — Australia, India, Japan and the U.S. — Exercise Malabar 2021, which was held in the Bay of Bengal in October. The ship also replenished RAN and partner nation ships in Southeast Asia and the Indian Ocean while on its last deployment. The RAN’S replenishment requirements will now be carried out by the two new Supply-class replenishment ships, HMAS Supply (A195), commissioned in April and HMAS Stalwart (A304), commissioned in November.

Sailors from HMS Brisbane return after a presence deployment in the Western Pacific on Dec. 17, 2021. Royal Australian Navy Photo

Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg (FFH338) arrived home at Canadian Forces Base Esquimalt on Thursday, completing a four-month presence deployment to the Asia Pacific that included approximately a month-and-half dedicated to Operation Neon, Canada’s contribution to the coordinated multinational effort to support the implementation of U.N. Security Council sanctions imposed on North Korea. During Operation Neon, Winnipeg conducted 48 patrol days at sea and collected intelligence on 23 vessels of interest suspected of violating U.N. sanctions against North Korea, according to a Canadian Navy news release.

Winnipeg also participated in ANNUALEX 21, along with conducting exercises with the United Kingdom Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group 21 in the Philippine and South China seas. The drills also involved the Reagan and Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Groups.

The Los Angeles-class fast-attack submarine USS Jefferson City (SSN- 759) arrived on Thursday at Naval Base Guam following a change of homeport from Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickham.

“This homeport change continues our focus to bring our most capable submarines to theater with the greatest amount of striking power and operational capability to bear in the timeliest manner,” Capt. Bret Grabbe, the commodore of Submarine Squadron 15, said in in a U.S. Pacific Fleet news release. “Jefferson City served with distinction while homeported in Hawaii since 2014 and now joins Submarine Squadron 15 in order to achieve rapid response times for maritime and joint forces while serving INDOPACOM objectives. We look forward to Jefferson City supporting national and Pacific Fleet objectives as part of the Forward Deployed Naval Forces stationed in Guam.”

USS Jefferson City (SSN-759) departs Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Dec. 8, 2021, as it heads to Naval Station Guam for a homeport shift. US Navy Photo

The U.S Navy also concluded the Bangladesh and Timor Leste phase of the annual Cooperation Afloat Readiness and Training (CARAT) series on Dec. 9 and yesterday, respectively. CARAT Bangladesh began on Dec. 1 and included participation from Littoral Combat Ship USS Tulsa (LCS-16) and an embarked MH-60S Sea Knight helicopter. U.S. personnel included staff from Commander Task Force (CTF) 72, CTF 75, CTF 76, Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 7, U.S. 7th Fleet Fleet Band and U.S. Embassy Dhaka. An at-sea phase took place in the Bay of Bengal, where Tulsa was joined by ships and aircraft from the Bangladesh Navy for partnered training focused on building interoperability and strengthening relationships.

CARAT Timor Leste took place off Port Hera and included Littoral Combat Ship USS Charleston (LCS-18).

“The Timor-Leste Defense Force (F-FDTL) members embarked on Charleston for partnered training focused on building interoperability and strengthening relationships. The exercise featured onboard subject matter expert exchanges on navigation, engineering and damage control, and visit, board, search, and seizure (VBSS),” the Navy said in a statement.

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.

Australian Prime Minister: Chinese Navy Has ‘Every Right’ to Operate In Our Exclusive Economic Zone

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Chinese naval ships have every right to operate in Australia’s exclusive economic zone, just as Australia and other countries have the right to freedom of movement in the South China Sea, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday. During a press conference today in South Australia, Morrison was asked about reports […]

A naval soldier of the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) views through a pair of binoculars onboard China’s first aircraft carrier Liaoning as it visits a military harbour on the South China Sea. Xinhua Photo

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia – Chinese naval ships have every right to operate in Australia’s exclusive economic zone, just as Australia and other countries have the right to freedom of movement in the South China Sea, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said Friday.

During a press conference today in South Australia, Morrison was asked about reports that the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) surveillance vessel Yuhengxing (798) had been conducting surveillance off Australia for three weeks in August and September.

“They have every right to be there under international maritime law, just like we have every right to be in the South China Sea, and other free liberal democratic countries have every right to be having freedom of movement in the South China Sea. Our movements in the South China Sea and those of other countries has been an issue of challenge to Australia,” Morrison said.

Morrison went on to say that because Australia has stood up for its right to be in the South China Sea, emphasized freedom of speech and freedom of the press, and is building up its defense capability – including the construction of nuclear powered submarines – China has taken up issues with Australia and the two nations have a strained relationship. Morrison added that these issues, however, “are not issues that any self-respecting government like Australia’s, or indeed any self-respecting liberal democracy, would ever give ground on.”

The Australian Prime Minister said the situation demonstrated that no one could be complacent in the Indo-Pacific.

“They have every right to be where they are. We knew they were there and they are, they are able to be there under international maritime law,” Morrison said. “But don’t think for a second that we weren’t keeping our eye on them, as they were seeking to keep an eye on us. What it demonstrates is now no one can be complacent about the situation in the Indo-Pacific.”

Australia’s Daily Telegraph reported on Friday that the vessel was seen circling Australia’s coast for three weeks in August and September, and that sources had informed the paper that the ship entered Australia’s 200-kilometer EEZ off the coast of Darwin in August before slowly heading south, hugging the coastline and monitoring a number of crucial military training areas as it traveled as far south as Sydney. The surveillance ship then went across the Tasman Sea towards New Zealand. In response to media queries on the matter, Australia’s Department of Defence supplied a photo of the ship in question, identifying it as the Yuhengxing.

Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton on Friday criticized China in a speech at the National Press Club of Australia, stating that while the Chinese government says it will work with other countries to maintain freedom of navigation and safe maritime routes, and address peaceful territorial disputes with dialogue and consultation, what actually happens is different.

“And yet we bear witness to a significant disconnect between words and actions, between the rhetoric and reality. Along with peoples of the Indo-Pacific and the world, Australians have watched on as the Chinese government has engaged in increasingly alarming activities,” Dutton said.

Among the examples Dutton gave of such activities were the occupation, fabrication and militarization of disputed features to establish 20 outposts in the South China Sea, the rejection of The Hague’s Permanent Court of Arbitration 2016 verdict on claims of historic rights in the South China Sea, sending increasing numbers of military jets into Taiwan’s air defense identification zone, using militia-crewed fishing vessels to intrude in the Philippines’ EEZ, and escalating tensions on China’s border with India and in the East China Sea with Japan.

The Australian Defence Minister said that China is using its increasing power in security, trade and economics, media and the internet to compel compliance and noted that China has also rapidly expanded the size and capabilities of its military. China now has the largest navy in the world with some 355 ships and submarines, a naval battle force that has more than tripled in size in two decades. He pointed out that averaged over the last four years, China has built new naval vessels equivalent in tonnage to the entire Royal Australian Navy fleet every 18 months and that by 2030, China’s navy is predicted to number some 460 vessels.

Chinese troops patrol disputed holding in the Spratly Islands. Photo via Reuters

Dutton added that China also has two other fleets subordinated to its armed forces – a coast guard that has doubled from 60 to 130 1000-ton ships in around a decade and a maritime militia that routinely has 300 vessels operating in the Spratly Islands on any given day. He also noted that the China Coast Guard alone possesses capabilities and maintains an operational tempo on par with some southeast Asian navies.

He said that nations seek to bolster their defense capabilities when facing aggression and that Australia plans to complement its defense capabilities with strong relationships, like partnerships with like-minded countries that want peace in the Indo-Pacific region.

Dutton also pointed out that the technology sharing agreement between Australia, the United Kingdom and the United States – known as AUKUS – is not a partnership trying to foist an agenda on other countries in the region.

“Rather, it complements a broader network of partnerships – like ASEAN, the Five Eyes, the Five Power Defence Arrangements, the Quad and other like-minded arrangements – which are committed to promoting sovereignty, security and stability in the Indo-Pacific,” Dutton said.

The Chinese Embassy in Australia issued a shore statement in response to Dutton’s speech.

“In his NPC speech, Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton continued preaching his quixotic misunderstanding of China’s foreign policy, distorting China’s efforts to safeguard sovereignty and territorial integrity, misguiding the Australian people on regional situations and priorities, and fanning conflict and division between peoples and nations,” the Chinese embassy said. “It is inconceivable that China-Australia relationship will take on a good momentum or the overall interest of regional countries, including that of Australia, will be better promoted if the Australian Government bases its national strategy on such visionless analysis and outdated mentality.”

Meanwhile, a spokesperson for China’s Ministry of National Defense during a Thursday press conference said China attaches great importance to the development of relations between the American and Chinese militaries and is willing to maintain exchanges and cooperation with the U.S.

Col. Wu Qian noted that “for a period of time, the US has said a lot of irresponsible things and done a lot of provocative things on Taiwan, the South China Sea, and the arrival of warships and planes for reconnaissance, etc., for which China naturally has to fight tit-for-tat and resolutely. We have said many times that China has principles for the development of relations between the two militaries, that is, China’s sovereignty, dignity, and core interests cannot be violated. Especially on the Taiwan issue, China has no room for compromise, and the US should not have any illusions.”

USS Ralph Johnson (DDG-114) steams near the Spratly Islands in the South China Sea on July 14, 2020. US Navy Photo

When asked to comment on U.S. Navy Secretary of the Navy’s Carlos Del Toro’s remarks about China being a primary threat and U.S. media reports about China building targets resembling U.S Navy ships, Col. Wu said: “People who are addicted to and chasing hegemony always feel that others are coveting their hegemony. For a long time, some people in the United States have been immersed in ‘persecution delusions’ and cannot extricate themselves, insisting on fabricating a non-existent ‘Chinese military threat.’ Their purpose is nothing more than to find excuses for themselves to seek absolute superiority in the military field and maintain global hegemony.” The Chinese military has always opposed such characterizations, he added, and that in regard to “the so-called missile target issue, we ask the US to seriously reflect on itself before blaming China.”

USNI News reported earlier this month that China appeared to be building missile targets shaped like U.S. aircraft carriers and other American warships in the Taklamakan desert.

As for the underwater collision involving USS Connecticut (SSN-22), which hit an unidentified seamount in early October in the South China Sea, Col. Wu said the U.S. needs to clarify three questions – namely what was the intention of the submarine’s navigation in the area, where was the specific location of the incident and whether the accident caused nuclear leakage and marine environmental pollution. He said China believes that the root cause of the accident was the large-scale, high-frequency approach, the reconnaissance, interference, provocation and military activities of U.S. warships in the Asia-Pacific region, and the militarization and navigational hegemony of the South China Sea.

“We ask the US to stop such activities immediately,” he said.

After the incident, a U.S. Navy spokesman in October said the submarine’s nuclear propulsion plant was not damaged in the collision.

“The submarine remains in a safe and stable condition. USS Connecticut’s nuclear propulsion plant and spaces were not affected and remain fully operational. The extent of damage to the remainder of the submarine is being assessed. The U.S. Navy has not requested assistance. The incident will be investigated,” U.S. Pacific Fleet spokesman Bill Clinton said in a statement at the time.

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.

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.