Three Russian ships that passed through the Senkaku Islands on Monday were spotted transiting the Tsushima Strait in the Sea of Japan on Tuesday evening, with two of the vessels completing a voyage around Japan that began on June 15.
Meanwhile, a Russian intelligence vessel was spotted operating in the contiguous zone of Okinotori Island in the Philippine Sea on Wednesday.
All three ships were RFS destroyers Marshal Shaposhnikov (543), corvette RFS Gremyashchiy (337) and tanker pechangaall part of the Russian Pacific Fleet.
Marshal Shaposhnikov and Gremyashchiy was part of a seven-ship Russian surface group operating near Japan since 15 June, with the remaining ships of this group transiting the Tsuhima Strait on 21 June. The Russian ships are likely returning to Vladivostok after a long series of exercises by the Russian Pacific Fleet that began in early June.
The Joint Chiefs of Staff Office (JSO) of the Ministry of Defense issued a statement on Wednesday stating that at 11 p.m. Tuesday the three Russian ships were sighted moving northeast in an area approximately 90 km west of the Danjo Islands and then sailed into the Sea of Japan through the Tsushima Strait.
The statement included a map showing early sightings of Russian vessels and said Russian vessels were being monitored by the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) fast attack craft. JS Shirataka (PG-829) with a JMSDF P-1 Maritime Patrol Aircraft (MPA) from Fleet Air Wing 1 stationed at JMSDF Kanoya Air Base and a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA from Fleet Air Wing 5 operating from Naha Air Base, Okinawa.
The JSO released a second statement saying that at 5 a.m. Wednesday, a Vishnya-class Russian intelligence vessel with hull number 535 was seen sailing west 45 km south-southeast of the island of Okinotori. The hull number given identifies the vessel as Karelia, which is part of the Russian Pacific Fleet. The statement added that the Russian ship then sailed west into the contiguous area of Okinotori Island and, after leaving the area, sailed further west.
The statement said a JMSDF P-3C Orion MPA from Fleet Air Wing 5 was watching the Russian vessel.
Article 33 of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea defines the contiguous zone as an area contiguous to the territorial sea of a State. Under the UN article, the coastal State may exercise the control necessary to prevent breaches of its customs, fiscal, immigration or health laws and regulations within its territory or territorial sea and sanction breaches of above laws and regulations committed in this area. The contiguous zone may not extend beyond 24 nautical miles from the baselines from which the breadth of the territorial sea is measured.
Okinotori Island is the southernmost part of Japan and lies directly between Taiwan and Guam.
Japan maintains a marine research station there and claims that the island allows Japan a 200 nm economic exclusion zone, although this claim has been disputed by China, Taiwan and the Republic of Korea.
In other developments, the JMSDF JS destroyer Kirisame (DD-104) departed Tuesday for Naval Base Sasebo as the second surface force for the JMSDF Indo-Pacific Deployment 2022 (IPD22) mission.
On July 5, the Indo-Pacific Deployment Force, consisting of JS KIRISAME, left Sasebo Base. The Self-Defense Fleet contributes to peace and stability in the Indo-Pacific region. #FOIP #IPD22 pic.twitter.com/oaqi1drL4p
– JMSDF ENG Self Defense Fleet (@JMSDF_SDF_ENG) July 6, 2022
The first surface force, consisting of the helicopter destroyer JS Izumo (DDH-183) and destroyer JS Takanami ((DD-110) are now in Hawaii for exercise Rim of the Pacific 2022 (RIMPAC2022).
Kirisame will travel to 10 Indo-Pacific countries for the deployment of IPD22 to conduct various engagements. Kirisame will make a stopover in Koror, Palau, from July 11-19, and from July 20-22, he will conduct training at sea with the Palau Coast Guard PSS patrol boats Kedam and PSS Remerik IIaccording to a Friday JMSDF press release.
From Monday to Wednesday, a trilateral training exercise between the JMSDF, the Royal Australian Navy (RAN) and the US Navy was conducted from the East China Sea east of Okinawa. Joint tactical training involved the JMSDF JS destroyer asahi (DD-119), HMAS RAN frigate Parramatta (FFH154) and the US Navy destroyer USS Dewey (DDG-105).
– JMSDF ENG Self Defense Fleet (@JMSDF_SDF_ENG) July 7, 2022
Parramatta currently operates around Japan as part of a regional presence deployment, which includes conducting surveillance operations for violations at sea of United Nations sanctions against North Korea.
In other developments, two CP-140 Aurora MPAs from the Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) arrived Wednesday at Marine Corps Base Hawaii in Kaneohe Bay, Hawaii, to participate in the exercise RIMPAC. The ARC later announced on social media Thursday the departure of planes for RIMPAC and, in a subsequent post on Friday, announced the number of participating planes.
RCAF CP-140 Auroras depart 19 Wing Comox, BC, bound for #RIMPAC2022 in Hawaii. They will join members of 25 other nations taking part in the world’s largest international maritime exercise. #CapableAdaptivePartners pic.twitter.com/5zJBSQ8O4S
— Royal Canadian Air Force (@RCAF_ARC) July 6, 2022
Members of the RCAF’s long-range patrol squadrons arrive at @MCB_Hawaii for #RIMPAC2022. Two CP140 Auroras will participate in the month-long exercise, conducting surface and underground warfare and intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance missions. pic.twitter.com/NLKofDAQh1
— Royal Canadian Air Force (@RCAF_ARC) July 7, 2022
The two CP-140s plus two Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) P-8 Poseidon (MPA) maritime patrol aircraft, one Indian Navy P-8I MPA, one Indian Navy P-1 MPA Japan Ground Self-Defense Force (JMSDF) and a Republic of Korea Navy (ROKN) P-3 Orion MPA are the partner nation fixed-wing aircraft participating in EXERCISE RIMPAC.Royal