KUALA LUMPUR – Australia, Canada, Germany, Japan and the United States are conducting naval exercises in the Philippine Sea off the southern coast of Japan for next week.
The Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force exercise, known as ANNUALEX 2021, began Sunday and will run through November 30. The exercise is an annual naval training event led by the JMSDF, with Marines from other countries invited to participate in the event. This year’s iteration marks the first time the German Navy has participated in these exercises.
The exercise “will include enhanced maritime communication tactics, anti-submarine warfare operations, air warfare operations, replenishments at sea, bridge flight operations and maritime interdiction maneuvers,” said the U.S. 7th Fleet in a press release.
The head of the German navy, Vice-Admiral Kay-Achim Schönbach, reiterated in the statement his previous announcement regarding a regular deployment of the German navy in the Indo-Pacific region.
“The German Navy will strengthen its engagement in the region through deeper security and defense cooperation with regional partners,” Schönbach said in the press release. “Germany would seek to send a frigate every two years to the Indo-Pacific region with a supply ship.”
German frigate FGS Bayern (F217) is currently on deployment to the region and participating in Exercise ANNUALEX 2021. It remains to be seen, however, whether the new German coalition government which is about to form will support and engage in a naval deployment. German regular in the Indo-Pacific.
The United States is participating with the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70) with embarked Carrier Air Wing (CVW) 2, cruiser USS Lake Champlain (CG-57), destroyer USS Stockdale (DDG-106), USNS Supply Vessels Rappahannock (T-AO-204) and USNS John Ericsson (T-AO-194) and an unnamed Los Angeles-class submarine.
“ANNUALEX presents an opportunity to strategically coordinate, collaborate and further strengthen our network of partnerships and alliances, allowing us to remain a flexible, adaptable and persistent combined force capable of rapidly projecting power, where and when needed” Rear Admiral Dan Martin, commander of Carrier Strike Group (CSG) 1, said in the statement.
Canadian frigate HMCS Winnipeg(FFH338) ‘s participation in the exercise is her last major commitment to her deployment of presence in the region before the ship departs for home. The Royal Australian Navy participates with the HMAS destroyer Brisbane (D41) and the frigate HMAS Warramunga (FFH152). Before exercise, Warramunga and Bayern were on separate monitoring and surveillance patrols in the East China Sea in support of United Nations sanctions against North Korea.
JMSDF units taking part in the exercise include the JS Helicopter Destroyer Izumo (DDH-183), JS destroyers Inazuma (DD-105), JS Harusame (DD-102), JS Onami (DD-111), JS Teruzuki (DD-116), JS Asahi (DD-119), JS Yamagiri (DD-152), JS Kirishima (DDG-174), JS Chokai (DDG-176) and a JMSDF submarine.
“Many naval forces (United States, Australia, Canada and primarily Germany) will join this JMSDF exercise. I am very proud to participate in the exercise as the commander of the surface forces, ”said Rear Admiral Komuta Shukaku, commander of Escort Flotilla 1, in the 7th Fleet statement. “We will strengthen cooperation between these navies through this high-end tactical exercise. “
In other developments, Malaysia and the United States began the Maritime Training Activity (MTA) Malaysia 2021 virtually and in the waters and airspace of the Strait of Malacca on Tuesday. The exercise, according to a separate 7th Fleet press release, will take place over eight days and will focus on “the full spectrum of naval capabilities and cooperative evolutions that highlight the ability of the United States and Malaysia to work together towards the common goal of ensuring a free and open Indo-Pacific.
The US Navy will participate with the Littoral Combat Ship USS Tulsa (LCS-16) and a CTF 72 P-8A Poseidon. The Royal Malaysian Navy is expected to deploy the KD frigate Lekiu (FFGH30) and corvette KD Lekir (FSG26) for drills.
“Our commitment to devote resources to exercises is a testament to our innate belief in the power to share responsibility for regional security,” Rear Admiral Chris Engdahlb, Commander of Expeditionary Strike Group (ESG) 7, said in the statement. “MTA Malaysia 2021 represents another step forward. “
The at-sea portion of the exercise will include training in “divisional tactics designed to improve communication as ships navigate complex maneuvers together,” the 7th Fleet said.
“Other areas of intervention include surface warfare, mobile diving and rescue training, sea refueling, a gunnery exercise and exchanges between explosive ordnance disposal technicians. “
Malaysia and the United States will also participate in subject matter expert exchanges to conduct exercises for multiple missions ranging from diving and rescue to maritime law and law enforcement, according to 7th Fleet.
“Staff from the European Union’s Indo-Pacific Critical Maritime Routes Initiative (EU-CRIMARIO) intergovernmental organization will provide subject matter expertise to help understand the operating environment, and the 7th Fleet wishes continue this approach in future iterations, ”said 7th Fleet.
MTA Malaysia is part of the Afloat Cooperation Preparedness and Training (CARAT) series. The United States already completed the Indonesian and Brunei phases of the series earlier this month. MTA Malaysia has resumed security mitigation measures after being canceled in 2020 due to restrictions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Meanwhile, Russia has announced the first-ever Russia-Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) naval exercise, which will begin on December 1. The Russian mission to ASEAN broke the news Tuesday in a social media post.
The first-ever ASEAN-Russia naval exercise (#ARNEX) will be held from December 1-3, 2021 in Indonesian territorial waters off the north coast of Sumatera. The Russian Navy will be represented by the Russian Pacific Fleet destroyer Admiral #Panteleyev. # ARNEX21 pic.twitter.com/hI7mSuJnh1
– Russian Mission to ASEAN (@ASEANRussia) 23 November 2021
Destructive Admiral Panteleyev (548) will represent Russia in the exercise, which will run through Dec. 3 in Indonesian territorial waters off the north coast of Sumatera. ASEAN countries have yet to reveal which of their warships will participate. This exercise will make Russia the third country, after China and the United States, to hold naval exercises with the regional body. China conducted exercises with ASEAN in 2018 and 2019, while the United States conducted one in 2019. No additional exercises have been carried out since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic.