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Patrol spies Chinese navy ships off Alaska

The United States Coast Guard says a routine patrol in the Bering Sea off Alaska has sighted a guided missile cruiser from China and Russian naval ships.

September 27, 2022
By MARK THIESSEN
27 September 2022

A guided missile cruiser from China has been spotted by a United States Coast Guard ship on routine patrol in the Bering Sea, off Alaska.

It turned out the cruiser wasn’t alone as it sailed about 138 kilometres north of Alaska’s Kiska Island, on September 19.

The patrol boat, known as a cutter called Kimball, later discovered there were two other Chinese naval ships and four Russian naval vessels, including a destroyer, all in single formation.

The Honolulu-based Kimball, a 127-metre vessel, observed as the ships broke formation and dispersed.

A C-130 Hercules provided air support for the Kimball from the Coast Guard station in Kodiak.

“While the formation has operated in accordance with international rules and norms, we will meet presence with presence to ensure there are no disruptions to US interests in the maritime environment around Alaska,” Seventeenth Coast Guard District commander Rear Admiral Nathan Moore said.

The Coast Guard said Operation Frontier Sentinel guidelines call for meeting “presence with presence” when strategic competitors operate in and around US waters.

The Kimball will continue to monitor the area.

The Coast Guard did not immediately respond to questions about the incident.

The Chinese and Russian formation came a month after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned about China’s interest in the Arctic and Russia’s military build up there.

Stoltenberg said Russia had set up a new Arctic Command and opened hundreds of new and former Soviet-era Arctic military sites, including deep-water ports and airfields.

China has declared itself a “near Arctic” state and plans to build the world’s largest icebreaker, he said.

“Beijing and Moscow have also pledged to intensify practical co-operation in the Arctic. This forms part of a deepening strategic partnership that challenges our values and interests,” Stoltenberg said during a visit to Canada’s north.

It’s not the first time Chinese naval ships have sailed near Alaska waters.

In September 2021, Coast Guard cutters in the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean encountered Chinese ships 80km off the Aleutian Islands.

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