By MARC THIESSEN
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — A U.S. Coast Guard ship on routine patrol in the Bering Sea passed a guided-missile cruiser en route from China, officials said Monday.
But it turned out the cruiser wasn’t alone as it sailed about 86 miles (138 kilometers) north of Kiska Island in Alaska on September 19.
Two other Chinese navy ships and four Russian navy ships, including a destroyer, were spotted in a single formation, the patrol boat, known as the cutter called Kimball, found.
The Honolulu-based Kimball, a 418-foot (127-meter) ship, watched as the ships broke formation and dispersed. A C-130 Hercules provided air support to the Kimball from Coast Guard Station Kodiak.
“While the training operated in accordance with international rules and standards, we will meet presence with presence to ensure there is no disruption of U.S. interests in the maritime environment around Alaska,” said Rear Admiral Nathan Moore, commander of the Seventeenth Coast Guard District.
The Coast Guard said Operation Frontier Sentinel guidelines call for “presence with presence” when strategic competitors operate in and around U.S. waters.
The Kimball will continue to monitor the area.
The Coast Guard did not immediately respond to questions about the incident from The Associated Press.
The Chinese and Russian training came a month after NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg warned of China’s interest in the Arctic and Russia’s military buildup there.
Stoltenberg said Russia has set up a new Arctic command and opened hundreds of new and old Soviet-era Arctic military sites, including deep-sea ports and airfields.
China has declared itself a “near Arctic” state and plans to build the world’s largest icebreaker, he said.
“Beijing and Moscow are also committed to intensifying practical cooperation in the Arctic. This is part of a deep strategic partnership that challenges our values and interests,” Stoltenberg said during a visit to Canada’s North.
It was not the first time that Chinese navy ships had sailed near Alaskan waters. In September 2021, coastguards from the Bering Sea and the North Pacific Ocean encountered Chinese vessels, about 80 kilometers off the Aleutian Islands.