Chinese military ships spotted near Alaska’s Aleutian islands

Chinese Navy ships were spotted inside the U.S. exclusive economic zone of the Bering Sea by a cutter on a routine patrol late last week, the U.S. Coast Guard said on Wednesday.

The U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Kimball saw three ships about 124 miles north of the Amchitka Pass, a strait in the the Aleutian Islands, a remote archipelago that stretches 1,200 miles from the Alaska Peninsular.

The crew of a Coast Guard plane stationed on Kodiak Island saw a fourth Chinese ship 84 miles north of the Amukta Pass, which lies between the islands of Amutka and Seguam.

The Chinese ships were in international waters, but within the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, which stretches 200 nautical miles from the U.S. shoreline, the Coast Guard said in a statement.

The Coast Guard said that both it and the U.S. Northern Command were “fully aware” of the Chinese ships’ progress.

“The Kimball patrolled under Operation Frontier Sentinel, a Coast Guard operation designed to meet presence with presence when strategic competitors operate in and around U.S. waters,” the statement said.

“The Chinese naval presence operated in accordance with international rules and norms,” said Rear Adm. Megan Dean, Seventeenth Coast Guard District commander. “We met presence with presence to ensure there were no disruptions to U.S. interests in the maritime environment around Alaska.”

The Chinese ships told the Coast Guard their mission was “freedom of navigation operations.” The Kimball monitored the ships until they went south into the North Pacific Ocean. The Kimball continues to monitor the area.

The Coast Guard said its cutters spotted Chinese military ships in the Bering Sea in 2021 and 2022.

China has yet to comment publicly on the U.S. Coast Guard’s statement.

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