U.S. Coast Guard tracked Chinese warships sailing near remote U.S. territory in Alaska

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Ryan Pickrell, Christopher Woody

During a routine patrol in the Bering Sea and the Arctic, U.S. Coast Guard Bertolf spotted and established contact with Chinese warships, August 30, 2021 U.S. Coast Guard photo by teaches Bridget Boyle

  • Four Chinese warships were recently seen conducting military operations near the Aleutian Islands in Alaska.

  • The ships were tracked by US coast guards and did not enter US territorial waters.

  • The news of China’s activity near Alaska follows Chinese complaints about US Navy activity in the South China Sea.

  • See more stories on the Insider business page.


Four Chinese Navy ships were recently seen operating in waters near the Aleutian Islands in Alaska, the US Coast Guard said in a statement on Monday.

The People’s Liberation Army navy task force, comprising a guided-missile cruiser, guided-missile destroyer, general intelligence ship, and auxiliary ship, conducted military and surveillance operations in the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean.

Chinese ships entered the exclusive economic zone of the United States but remained in international waters. The ships were in the EEZ from August 29 to September 1, a Coast Guard official told Insider on Monday evening.

During a routine maritime patrol in the Bering Sea and the Arctic region, U.S. Coast Guard Bertolf spotted and established radio contact with the China People's Liberation Army (PLAN) task force in international waters of the exclusive economic zone of the United States on August 30, 2021

U.S. Coast Guard Bertolf observing Chinese Navy ships in international waters of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, August 30, 2021. U.S. Coast Guard / Ensign Bridget Boyle

The ships approached closest to U.S. territory when they sailed about 46 miles (74 km) from one of the Aleutian Islands. (Territorial waters extend 12 miles (19 km) from the coast; the EEZ extends approximately 230 miles (370 km).)

The four Chinese warships were tracked and monitored by US Coast Guard Bertolf and Kimball and can be seen in Coast Guard footage. The crew of the Bertolf made radio contact with Chinese ships and the service said all interactions were in accordance with international standards.

“Security in the Bering Sea and the Arctic is homeland security,” said Vice Admiral Michael McAllister, Coast Guard Pacific Area Commander. Economic prosperity. “

In a report released on Monday, the state-affiliated tabloid Global Times quoted Chinese analysts as saying the activity could be seen as a “countermeasure against US military provocations at China’s gates in the name of freedom of navigation “.

Sensitive waters

Last week, the USS Carl Vinson, the first aircraft carrier to deploy with F-35C stealth fighters, sailed into the South China Sea. The destroyer USS Benfold also conducted a freedom of navigation operation in the Spratly Islands, disputed territories claimed by China.

China frequently protests against foreign naval operations in these waters, and the Chinese media have called the activities a “provocative deployment,” and the Chinese military has accused the United States of violating and violating its sovereignty.

The US Navy’s 7th Fleet said US forces “will continue to fly, sail and operate where international law permits” and that “nothing” from China “will say otherwise will deter us.”

News of Chinese naval activity near Alaska follows a call by Hu Xijin, editor of the state-affiliated Global Times, for Chinese warships to sail near U.S. territory in response to recent US Navy activity in the South China Sea, although the activity observed by the Coast Guard recently predates Hu’s tweets.

US Navy Chief Information Officer Rear Admiral Charles Brown responded to Hu’s tweets, writing that the US Navy “has followed freedom of navigation standards longer than the PLA Navy does not exist “.

Brown then provided past examples of Chinese warships sailing near Alaska, Guam and Hawaii.

Chinese warships first operated off the coast of Alaska in 2015, when they entered U.S. territorial waters as they passed through the Aleutian Islands. The US Navy recognized at the time that Chinese ships were in legal transit.

The Aleutians stretch from the mainland west to Alaska across the North Pacific. Remote and rugged islands lie on the edge of the Bering Strait, where naval activity is expected to increase as the Arctic becomes more accessible.

The US military has stepped up activities in Alaska – officials have even suggested reopening a base in the Aleutians – reflecting what Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said is “how strategically important Alaska is to our security. national and territorial defense ”.



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