Chinese carrier fleet sails near Okinawa

Courtesy of the Defense Ministry’s Joint Staff Office
The Chinese Navy aircraft carrier Liaoning is seen in the East China Sea on Friday.

A Chinese Navy fleet of six warships, including the aircraft carrier Liaoning, sailed through a sea area between Okinawa and Miyako islands, both in Okinawa Prefecture, into the Pacific Ocean on Friday, the Defense Ministry announced on the day.

The fleet did not intrude into Japanese territorial waters. The Maritime Self-Defense Force deployed aircraft, including a P-1 patrol plane, for vigilance.

It was a movement of unprecedented scale for a Chinese Navy fleet, and the ministry was analyzing the Chinese side’s intentions.

According to the ministry, the Chinese fleet including the Liaoning sailed southward in a sea area about 440 kilometers off Fukue Island of Nagasaki Prefecture around 10 a.m. Thursday, and conducted takeoff and landing operations of the carrier’s helicopters in the East China Sea on Friday. Then the fleet headed for the Pacific Ocean.

Also in May this year, the Liaoning carried out more than 300 takeoff and landing drills in a period longer than half month in the Pacific Ocean near Okinawa Island.