China, Russia in ‘largest’ naval drills in Sea of Japan

China, Russia in ‘largest’ naval drills in Sea of Japan

BEIJING - The Associated Press
China, Russia in ‘largest’ naval drills in Sea of Japan

A Chinese destroyer leads a fleet of ships heading to a joint exercise.AP photo

China and Russia kicked off their largest-ever joint naval drills on July 5 in the Sea of Japan, a further sign of the broad-based progress in ties between the former Cold War rivals.

Eighteen surface ships, one submarine, three airplanes, five ship-launched helicopters and two commando units were taking part in the “Joint Sea-2013” exercise that runs through July 12.

The drills will cover anti-submarine warfare, close maneuvering, and the simulated take-over of an enemy ship.

The drills are considerably bigger than anything China’s navy has previously held with a foreign partner. China’s navy is contributing four destroyers, two latest-generation guided missile frigates and a support ship, all of which sailed this week from the port of Qingdao, where China’s Northern Fleet is based, to the rallying point in Peter the Great Bay near Vladivostok.

‘Strongest line-up’

“This is our strongest line-up ever in a joint naval drill,” Rear Adm. Yang Junfei, commander of the Chinese contingent, was quoted as saying by state media.

China has long been a key customer for Russian military hardware, but only in the last decade have their militaries begun training jointly. The naval drills are to be followed by another round of anti-terrorism joint drills in Russia’s Ural Mountain region of Chelyabinsk from July 27 to Aug. 15.