Russian, Chinese Warships Prepare for Joint Pacific Naval Exercises

July 10, 2023 4:26 PM
Russian Navy corvettes RFS Sovershenniy (333) and RFS Gromkiy (335). JMSDF photo

Two Russian warships are now in Shanghai ahead of an at-sea exercise with People’s Liberation Army Navy vessels in the Pacific, according to Chinese state media.

Russian Navy corvettes RFS Sovershenniy (333) and RFS Gromkiy (335) called into Shanghai for a weeklong port visit on Wednesday and following the conclusion of the port call will carry out joint exercises with PLAN ships.

The two Russian corvettes, both part of the Russian Navy Pacific Fleet, had sailed for six weeks on deployment in South-East Asian waters, which included participation in the Indonesian Navy’s Multinational Naval Exercise Komodo held in Makassar, Sulawesi.

Japan tracked the movements of the Russian ships as they sailed near Japanese waters. The Joint Staff Office last week that said from July 1 to 3, the two Russian corvettes had been sighted anchored 50 miles northeast of Miyako Island, which lies 185 miles southwest of Okinawa, and on July 3, sailed west through waters north of Miyako Island and on July 4, sailed in the contiguous waters of Kuba Island and Taisho Island before sailing north in the East China Sea.

Path of Russian Navy corvettes RFS Sovershenniy (333) and RFS Gromkiy (335). JMSDF photo

From June 27-29, the Russian ships had been sailing around Yonaguni Island and transited the Miyako Strait on June 30. Destroyer JS Yudachi (DD-103), destroyer escort JS Jintsu (DE-230) and minesweeper JS Toyoshima (MSC-685) tracked the Russian ships, according to Japanese officials.

Meanwhile, U.S., South Korean, Australian and Japanese vessels are operating together as part of Exercise Pacific Vanguard in the waters of the Mariana Islands Range Complex (MIRC) in the Philippine Sea. The exercise began on July 1 and ends on Wednesday.

The underway phase of the annual exercise began on July 4, stated a navy release on Wednesday, and “ is an opportunity for the four Indo-Pacific navies to strengthen their skills in maritime operations, anti-submarine warfare operations, air warfare operations, live-fire missile events, and advanced maneuvering scenarios” stated the release.

“Getting the opportunity to work together as proficient surface teammates is key to enabling peace and stability in the region,” said Capt. Walter Mainor, commander of U.S. Navy Task Force 71 and Destroyer Squadron (DESRON) 15 in a statement.
“Getting to operate in the waters around Guam is valuable to our combined efforts at confronting our shared maritime challenges, and ensuring we can continually grow in all aspects of the at-sea operations that are necessary to keep this region secure.”

From left, Japanese Asahi-class destroyer JS Shiranui (DD 120), Republic of Korea destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great (DDG 976), and Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Howard (DDG 83), sail in formation in the Philippine Sea during Pacific Vanguard 23, July 4, 2023. US Navy Photo

U.S. units included USS Howard (DDG-83) along with P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol Aircraft assigned to commander, Task Force 72 (CTF72) while South Koreans are represented by destroyer ROKS Munmu the Great (DDG-976). The JMSDF is participating with destroyer JS Shiranui (DD-120) and submarine JS Yaeshio (SS- 598). The RAN is represented by personnel on the Exercise Control team.

Officials said on June 14, Japanese submarine Yaeshio would deploy to Guam for anti-submarine warfare exercises from June 22 to July 22. Shiranui is part of the First Surface Unit of the JMSDF’s Indo-Pacific Deployment 2023 (IPD23), the service’s annual presence and engagement deployment in the Indo-Pacific region.

Along with Shiranui, the First Surface Unit consists of destroyer helicopter carrier JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Samidare (DD-106) with all three ships currently split up on individual taskings, Izumo arrived in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea on Friday for a port visit and on Tuesday will depart the port and carry out an exercise the same day with the Papua New Guinea Defence Force patrol vessel HMPNGS Francis Agwi (P403) in the Coral Sea stated a release by the JMSDF on Monday.


Royal Australian Navy frigate HMAS Anzac (FFH150) and Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) helicopter destroyer JS Izumo sail together in the South China Sea as part of the Trident 23 exercise. JMSDF Photo

Izumo is then expected to sail towards Australia where it will take part in the Australian-led multinational exercise Talisman Sabre held from July 22 to Aug. 4 with the exercise primarily in the states of Queensland and New South Wales and their adjacent waters. Also taking part in the exercise is the Second Surface Unit of IPD23, consisting of landing ship tank JS Shimokita (LST-4002) which departed Sasebo on July 3.

On Thursday, France Pacific Command announced that on Wednesday, French Navy destroyer FS Lorraine (D657) had completed its Pacific deployment and was now in the Indian Ocean.

Lorraine’s deployment included operating the Ronald Reagan Carrier Strike Group for multinational exercises held in the East China Sea, Philippine Sea and the South China Sea. Meanwhile in Cairns, Australia, Royal Navy offshore patrol vessels HMS Tamar (P233) and HMS Spey (P234) are currently berthed there, the first time the two ships have been together since departing the U.K. in 2021 for a five year deployment to the Indo-Pacific

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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