PLA Navy ships to return home after circling Japan

By Chen Boyuan
0 Comment(s)Print E-mail, July 22, 2013
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A fleet of five People's Liberation Army (PLA) naval vessels are expected to soon complete their first-ever circumnavigation of the Japanese archipelago, which they began after joint drills with Russia.

PLA Navy ships to return home after circling Japan.[Photo/]

PLA Navy ships to return home after circling Japan.[Photo/]

The five vessels, which belong to the Navy's North Fleet, surprised citizens last weekend when they did not return to port after the joint drills concluded July 14 and instead went on for further training. The fleet, which contains two missile destroyers, two frigates and one comprehensive depot ship, passed through la Pérouse Strait (or Soya Strait) and Russia's Kuril Islands to the open waters east of the Japanese island of Hokkaido.

Japan reacted nervously to the news. Some media outlets called the PLA Navy's first-ever pass through la Pérouse Strait an intentional and planned act mean to break the barrier created to the sea by the first island chain.

Military experts echoed the media's speculations, saying the pass-through offers the PLA Navy another route to the Pacific Ocean in the case of a Western maritime blockade.

PLA Navy authorities said that passing through la Pérouse Strait, Sea of Okhotsk and then returning home from the West Pacific were all part of the Navy's plan.

According to military analysts, the five vessels are likely to pass through the Osumi Strait to complete PLA Navy's first circumnavigation of the Japanese archipelago. The expedition is also the first time open-sea training has followed a major exercise without returning home for repairs and maintenance in between.

Meanwhile, the other two missile destroyers in PLA Navy's South Sea Fleet returned home directly after the joint drills. They are scheduled to pass through the Tsushima Strait, also a strategic channel.

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