Coast Guard spots Chinese and Russian military ships together in Bering Sea

a coast guardsman watching a ship
A crew member aboard the U.S. Coast Guard cutter Kimball crewmember observes a foreign vessel in the Bering Sea on Sept. 19, 2022. (From U.S. Coast Guard)

A U.S. Coast Guard crew encountered a Chinese guided missile cruiser in the Bering Sea last week.

The Coast Guard cutter Kimball was on a routine patrol on Sept. 19, when the vessel encountered the Renhai CG 101 about 75 miles north of Kiska Island, in the Western Aleutians, according to a Coast Guard statement Monday morning.

The statement said the Coast Guard crew identified two more Chinese naval vessels and four Russian naval vessels, including a Russian Federation Navy destroyer.

The ships were lined up together in some kind of group formation with the Chinese cruiser. The statement didn’t specify what kind of exercise they might be involved in. However, the ships were identified within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, an area up to 200 nautical miles offshore, where the U.S. has jurisdiction over natural resources.

The Coast Guard crew saw the group of vessels disperse, said the statement.

The foreign formation hasn’t broken any international rules or norms, according to Seventeenth Coast Guard District Commander Rear Adm. Nathan Moore. Still, he said the Kimball “will meet presence-with-presence to ensure there are no disruptions to U.S. interests in the maritime environment around Alaska.”

As of Monday afternoon, Coast Guard representatives hadn’t responded to questions about what the vessels were doing in the area.

Kimball is a 418-foot Legend-class national security cutter homeported in Honolulu, Hawaii.

A year ago, Coast Guard cutters deployed to the Bering Sea and North Pacific Ocean encountered four Chinese warships, including a group traveling approximately 50 miles off the Aleutian Island chain.

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