Russian, Chinese Naval Exercise Wraps in East China Sea

December 28, 2022 10:14 AM
A People’s Liberation Army Navy helicopter takes off from Chinese aircraft carrier Liaoning in the Philippine Sea. JSDF Photo

The Russian Navy and the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) wrapped up their Joint Sea 2022 exercise in the East China Sea on Tuesday. The Russian surface action group transited northeast through the Tsushima Strait while the PLAN Liaoning Carrier Strike Group (CSG) continued its deployment to the Philippine Sea.

On Tuesday, a Russian cruiser, destroyer and two corvettes were sighted about 85 miles northwest of the Danjo Islands in the East China Sea, according to the Japanese Ministry of Defense. The ships were identified as the guided-missile cruiser RFS Varyag (011), destroyer RFS Marshal Shaposhnikov (543) and corvettes RFS Sovershennyy (333) and RFS Hero of the Russian Federation Aldar Tsydenzhapov (339).

The Russian ships were the same ones that sailed southwest through the Tsushima Strait from December 20-21 and also stated that Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106) and minesweeper JS Toyoshima (MSC-685) along with JMSDF P-1s Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi, Honshu shadowed the Russian ships.

Joint Sea 2022 is the latest in an exercise series the East China Sea that has been carried out by the two countries since 2012. This year’s iteration took place from Dec. 21- 27 with the PLAN deploying the destroyers CNS Baotou (133) and CNS Jinan (152), frigates CNS Binzhou (515) and CNS Yancheng (546), replenishment ship CNS Gaoyouhu (966) and a submarine along with airborne early warning and control aircraft and maritime patrol aircraft for the exercise.

Japanese MoD Photo

The Russian Ministry of Defense in a release on Wednesday said that the two navies carried out a drill to rescue a simulated seized vessel, practiced maritime search and rescue, carried out an anti-submarine warfare exercise where the ships of both countries, supported by anti-submarine aircraft, located a notional enemy’s submarine and destroyed it with rocket-propelled depth charges. Live firing of guns at a target simulating a surface ship and live fire of surface-to-air missiles against aerial targets were also carried out according to the release.

Meanwhile, the Liaoning CSG comprising of carrier CNS Liaoning (16), cruisers CNS Anshan (103) and CNS Wuxi (104), destroyer CNS Chengdu (120), frigate CNS Zhaozhuang (542) and fast combat support ship CNS Hulunhu (901) have been conducting operations in the Philippine Sea near Japan’s Daito Islands group, which lies around 224 miles southeast of Okinawa. A Wednesday release by the JSO provided a table showing the location and sightings of ships from the CSG from Friday to Tuesday.

Time and Date Location Ships sighted


23 December

640km south of Kita Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang


24 December

870km south of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang


25 December

670km southeast of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu


26 December

250km southwest of Okinotorishima Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu


27 December

270km east of Oki Daito Island Carrier Liaoning, cruiser Wuxi, destroyer Chengdu, frigate Zhaozhuang, fast combat support ship Hulunhu

On Friday, Monday and Tuesday, Liaoning conducted flight operations with around 40 launches and recoveries of fighters. Japan Air Self Defense Force (JASDF) fighter aircraft were scramble in response to the fighter activity from the carrier according to the release. Helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Ariake (DD-109) were monitoring the PLAN CSG, according to the MoD.

Aircraft carrier USS Nimitz (CVN-68) together with its CSG escorts is operating in the Philippine Sea conducting routine operations based on photographs released by the U.S Navy though there is no indication that the Nimitz CSG is in the same vicinity as the Liaoning CSG.

In French Polynesia, two Iranian Navy ships transited the EEZ of French Polynesia according to a social media post by France Pacific Command on Sunday. The command posted photos of the two ships that were taken by a French Navy Falcon 200 Guardian maritime surveillance aircraft. While the post did not state the identity of the ships, the two ships are most likely seabase IRIS Makran (441) and frigate IRIS Dena (75) which form the Iranian Navy’s 86th Flotilla that left Iran on September 28. Iranian Navy Chief Rear Admiral Shahram Irani stated on a television broadcast on Sept. 30 that the 86th flotilla of the Iranian Navy will circumnavigate the globe in its mission in order to exhibit the Iranian nation’s power. The two ships were last sighted leaving Jakarta, Indonesia on Nov. 5 after a five day visit there.

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir

Dzirhan Mahadzir is a freelance defense journalist and analyst based in Kuala Lumpur Malaysia. Among the publications he has written for and currently writes for since 1998 includes Defence Review Asia, Jane’s Defence Weekly, Navy International, International Defence Review, Asian Defence Journal, Defence Helicopter, Asian Military Review and the Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter.

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