Chinese Warships, Aircraft Operate Near Japan, Taiwan

March 22, 2024 5:11 PM
Chinese warships underway on March 18, 2024. Japan MoD Photo

Several People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) ships have been sailing near Japan this week, including a pair of frigates that conducted a cruise around Japanese islands before sailing near Taiwan, according to releases by the Joint Staff Office (JSO) of Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

On Friday, the JSO issued a release stating that at 5 a.m. that day, PLAN survey ship Chen Jingrun (26) was sighted sailing south in an area 43 miles west of Uotsuri Island, one of the disputed Senkaku Islands in the East China Sea that are held by Japan and also claimed by both China and Taiwan. Chen Jingrun then sailed southeast between Yonaguni Island, which lies 67 miles east of Taiwan’s east coast, and Iriomote Island to enter the Philippine Sea. The release stated that Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer escort JS Tone (DE-234) and a P-3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 5 based at Naha Air Base, Okinawa, shadowed the PLAN survey ship.

On Monday, the JSO issued two releases on PLAN warship movements. The first release stated that from Mar. 3–14, PLAN frigates CNS Zhoushan (529) and CNS Jingzhou (532) had been cruising in an area 111 miles south of Ishigaki Island to 130 miles southeast of Miyako Island. Subsequently, at 5 p.m. on Mar. 15, the two PLAN frigates sailed between Taiwan and Yonaguni Island and were later sailing in a sea area 49 miles west of Uotsuri Island, according to the release. The release noted that the two PLAN frigates had sailed south through the Miyako Strait on Mar. 2 and that Tone, together with JMSDF P-3C Orion MPAs of Fleet Air Wing 5, carried out surveillance on the PLAN frigates.

Path of Chinese ships operating in the Western Pacific on March 22, 2024

The second release stated that on Saturday at 8 a.m., PLAN frigate CNS Daqing (576) and fleet oiler CNS Kekexilihu (903) were sighted sailing northeast in an area 62 miles southwest of Tsushima and then sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait to enter the Sea of Japan. Later that day, at 6 p.m., PLAN destroyer CNS Huainan (123) was sighted sailing northeast in an area 74 miles southwest of Tsushima, and from Saturday to Sunday sailed northeast through the Tsushima Strait to enter the Sea of Japan, according to the release. Minesweeper JS Toyoshima (MSC-685), fast-attack craft JS Shirataka (PG-829) and P-1 MPAs of Fleet Air Wing 4 based at Naval Air Facility Atsugi shadowed the PLAN ships.

Earlier on Mar. 15, the JSO issued a release stating that at 3 a.m., PLAN Dongdiao-class surveillance ship Jinxing (799) was sighted sailing northeast in an area 68 miles southwest of Tsushima and subsequently transited the Tsushima Strait to enter the Sea of Japan. Shirataka shadowed the PLAN ship, according to the release.

The JSO also reported Thursday that a Russian Navy corvette RFS Gremyashchiy (337) was sighted sailing east in an area 24 miles southwest of Oshima Island at noon on Tuesday, and subsequently sailed through the Tsugaru Strait to enter the Pacific Ocean. The release stated that minesweeper JS Enoshima (MSC-604) and a P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 2 conducted surveillance on the corvette.

In other developments, the JMSDF issued a release on Tuesday stating that it had conducted an Interchangeable Logistics Exercise (ILEX) with the U.S. Navy on Sunday in the Sea of Japan in which JMSDF fleet oiler JS Hamana (AOE-424) conducted a replenishment of U.S. Navy destroyer USS Hopper (DDG-70). According to the release, the ILEX was the 47th bilateral exercise for Japan’s 2023 fiscal year which spans from Apr. 1, 2023, to Mar. 31, 2024. A JMSDF social media post on X stated this was the first ILEX exercise for 2024.

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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