KUALA LUMPUR – A combined fleet of the Russian Navy and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLAN) continues to navigate international waters east of Japan’s main island Honshu, while ships and planes of the Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Forces monitor the fleet as it travels.
At 4 a.m. on Thursday, the Joint Fleet was sighted between Smith Island (Sumisu-tō) and Tori-shima Island in the Izu Island Range, according to a published press release and map. by the Joint Chiefs of the Japanese Self-Defense Forces on Friday. Smith Island is approximately 440 kilometers, or approximately 273 miles, south of the main island of Honshu. The press release said the fleet was 50 kilometers, or about 31 miles, southwest of Smith Island.
Earlier, the fleet had passed through the Tsugaru Strait on Monday evening, passing 40 kilometers, or about 25 miles, east of the southeast of the Shiriyazaki Lighthouse, the press release said. At 1:00 a.m. Wednesday, the fleet was 130 kilometers, or about 81 miles, east of Inubōsaki Lighthouse.
A statement earlier this week identified the Chinese ships as Type 055 destroyers Nanchang (101), type 052D destroyer Kuming (172), type 054a frigates Binzou (515) and Liuzhou (573) and an unnamed supply ship. Russian ships include destroyers Tributes to the admiral (564) and Admiral Panteleyev (548), corvette Gromkiy (335) and Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339) and the missile field instrumentation ship Marshal Krylov (331).
The Joint Chiefs of Staff statement said JMSDF was monitoring passage of ships via Fleet Air Wing 2 P-3C Orions stationed at Hachinohe Air Base, Honshu, while minesweeper JS Izushima (MSC-687) and JS destroyers Yamagiri (DD-152) and JS Takanami (DD-110) also monitored the fleet. He also said fighters from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force had been dispatched in response to helicopters taking off from Russian Navy and PLAN ships, with photos of the helicopters in question included in the statement.
Previously, PLAN ships participated in the Sea Interaction 2021 exercise between the two countries from October 14 to 17. submarine. Russian naval assets participating in the exercise, as stated in the statement, were Admiral Panteleyev, Gromkiy, Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov, submarine Ust- Bolcheretsk (B-494), two base minesweepers, a missile boat and a rescue tug.
The JSDF Joint Chiefs of Staff statement earlier this week said it was the first time that warships from the two countries have jointly sailed the Tsugaru Strait and that the ships’ journey around Japan has sparked speculation as to whether Combined Fleet Navigation is a response to the various multinational navigations and exercises conducted by both Japan and the United States in recent months throughout the Western Pacific. Japan also conducted four iterations of Exercises Pacific Crown with the United Kingdom’s Royal Navy Carrier Strike Group (CSG 21) in the waters off Japan in August and September this year.
In other developments, the American destroyer USS The Sullivans (DDG-68) completed its participation in CSG 21 on Wednesday and is now heading home while the majority of CSG is currently carrying out port engagements in India.
USS The Sullivans has been an integral part of CSG for over a year. Yesterday they left the # CSG21 to begin their transit home. Thank you for your commitment, your loyalty, your professionalism and your great humor. Your motto says it all #we stay together pic.twitter.com/ZkxIDY9GP7
– Commander of the UK Carrier Strike Group (@smrmoorhouse) 20 October 2021
In Guam, German navy frigate Bayern (F217) is currently rotating the two Sea Lynx helicopters operating on board with two others, as it continues its deployment in the Indo-Pacific. A German Air Force A400M transport is also en route to Guam carrying supplies and parts after making a short overnight stopover at Royal Air Force Subang Air Base. Malaysian in Malaysia Wednesday and Thursday.
Not only @ US7thFleet units navigate with @FregatteBayern, they also helped to facilitate the #SEALYNX helo exchange on @USPacificFleet‘s @nbguam. Special thanks to Cdr Butts and his # HSC25 as well as ViceCdr # 36th Wing Col Aragon for their exceptional support.
??@deutschemarine https://t.co/JNCsQQ7Uwb pic.twitter.com/zIPO9ScyY6
– FlyNavy1 (@CdrDeuNavalAir) 21 October 2021