US Navy Deploys Destroyers as Joint Chinese and Russian Ships Get Uncomfortably Close to Alaska

US Navy Deploys Destroyers as Joint Chinese and Russian Ships Get Uncomfortably Close to Alaska

( – China and Russia regularly conduct military drills together. The two authoritarian nations have formed a strong alliance over the years. Recently, the two countries were patrolling together in the waters off the coast of Alaska. The US military was forced to respond when their flotilla got too close to US territory.

Navy Reacts

During the first week of August, the US military sent four Navy warships and a P-8 Poseidon aircraft to the Aleutian Islands in Alaska after an 11-ship flotilla allegedly crossed into American waters. Not many details are known about the incident because not all of them have been declassified. However, Senator Dan Sullivan (R-AK) confirmed the incursion into US waters took place during a phone interview with KTUU.

The senator stated the response by the US was robust. He said the flotilla contained ships operated by the Chinese and Russian militaries. He called it “unprecedented” for both the state and country, saying the two countries were “essentially doing freedom of navigation and navigation operations incursions into Alaska’s area.” He went on to say the incident is a reminder of how important America’s northernmost state is from both strategic and force projection standpoints.

Generally, ships from other nations are allowed to pass through American waters and those of other nations. The practice is known as innocent passage, which the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Seas defines as travel that isn’t “prejudicial to the peace, good order, or security” of the country in question. The flotilla didn’t fall into the protected category because the ships were identified as belonging to the two nations’ militaries.

Arctic Waters

Sullivan told reporters that after a similar incursion in 2022, he warned military leaders that it would likely happen again and the US needed to prepare for it. He thought the Pentagon’s response to the 2022 incursion was “very tepid and sent the wrong signal” because Coast Guard vessels tracked the ships, not the Navy.

The senator is happy with the Coast Guard build-up in the region but also wants an icebreaker ship in the area, so it can be deployed into the arctic waters if necessary.

In recent years, the US Army has taken steps to focus on the region. While soldiers stationed in Alaska have always trained in the Arctic conditions, the military branch reactivated the 11th Airborne Division at Fort Wainwright and Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson in Fairbanks and began training the unit members in Arctic warfare.

As China and Russia become more aggressive, the training and military build-up could be more important than ever.

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