Chinese, Russian Joint Warship Patrol Begins in the Pacific

July 5, 2024 7:10 PM
Chinese and Russian warships underway off Japan. JSDF Photo

The Russian Navy and the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy began their annual joint patrol on Thursday with Japan’s Joint Staff Office (JSO) reporting the combined flotilla is now in the Pacific Ocean after transiting Japan’s Osumi Strait from Thursday to Friday.

Corvette RFS Sovershenny (333) rendezvoused with PLAN destroyer CNS Yinchuan (175), frigate CNS Hengshui (572) and fleet oiler CNS Weishanhu (887) in the Korea Strait near Jeju Island to begin the fourth joint Russian-Chinese maritime patrol in the Asia-Pacific region, reads a Thursday statement from the Russian Pacific Fleet.

“The objectives of the joint patrol are to strengthen naval cooperation between Russia and China, maintain peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region, monitor the maritime area and protect maritime economic facilities of the Russian Federation and China.” reads the release. The Russians did not specify where the group would operate.

As of Friday, Weishanhu had swapped for a Russian Navy fleet oiler, based on a sighting report of the flotilla issued by Japan’s JSO. The JSO release stated that on Thursday at 4 p.m. , a Russian Navy Dubna class fleet oiler was sighted sailing southeast in in an area 25 miles southwest of the Kusagaki Islands and at 6 p.m the same day, Sovershenny, Yinchuan and Hengshui were sighted in the same area sailing east.

Path of Chinese and Russian warships underway from July 3 to July 5. JMSDF Photo

From Thursday to Friday, the four ships sailed through the Osumi Strait to enter the Pacific Ocean. Japan Maritime Self Defense Force (JMSDF) destroyer escort JS Jintsu (DE-230) and JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircrafts (MPA) of Fleet Air Wing 1 based at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base on the main island of Kyushu, shadowed the Russian and Chinese ships, the JSO said.

Sovershenny had earlier sailed southwest through the Tsushima Strait from Wednesday to Thursday. An earlier JSO release on Thursday stated that the Russian corvette had been sighted at 5 p.m. sailing southwest in an area about 45 miles northeast of Tsushima and subsequently from Wednesday to Thursday sailed southwest through the Tsushima Strait to enter the East China Sea. Fast attack craft JS Shirataka (PG-829) and JMSDF P-1 MPAs of Fleet Air Wing 1 shadowed Sovershenny, according to the release.

Thursday to Friday’s transit through the Osumi Strait marked the third time Russian Navy and PLAN ships have jointly sailed through the strait. A similar group sailed through in 2022 and 2021 with both occasions being part of the Russia-China annual joint patrol.

The current patrol is scaled down from the patrols of previous years, which involved more than ten ships from the two navies and preceded by a joint naval exercise. Last year’s patrol involved a combined total of ten ships from the two navies with a PLAN surveillance ship subsequently joining the flotilla as it operated off Alaska , it is possible that additional Russian Navy and PLAN warships may link up and join the patrol flotilla later on.

Japan also tracked other Russian warships in the vicinity of Japan this week, the JSO issued a release on Wednesday stating that at 7 a.m. that day, Russian Navy corvettes RFS R-298 (971) and RFS R-261 (991) were sited sailing east in an area about 30 miles northwest of Rebun Island (which lies 50km off the northwest tip of the main island of Hokkaido) and subsequently, according to the release, the two Russian corvettes sailed east through La Perouse Strait, which separates Hokkaido from the Russian island of Sakhalin, to enter the Sea of Okhotsk. The release stated that fast attack craft JS Wakataka (PG-825) and a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA of Fleet Air Wing 2 based at JMSDF Hachinohe Air Base on the main island of Honshu, shadowed the Russian corvettes.

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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