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Routine USCG patrol notes presence of Russian and Chinese naval vessels in US Alaskan EEZ

HC-130J aircraft based in Kodiak, Alaska, provide support for surface-ship patrols in the waters off the western part of the state, where Chinese and Russian vessels have been sighted. (Michael Fabey)

US Coast Guard (USCG) Legend-class National Security Cutter (NSC) USCGC Kimball (WMSL-756) sighted Chinese and Russian naval vessels on a routine patrol in the Bering Sea about 75 n miles north of Kiska Island, Alaska, on 19 September, USCG officials confirmed on 26 September.

The Kimball crew identified three Chinese naval vessels, including guided-missile cruiser Renhai (CG 101), and four Russian naval vessels, including a Russian Federation navy destroyer, all in a single formation with Renhai as a combined surface action group operating in the US exclusive economic zone (EEZ), USCG officials reported.

With the sighting, Kimball is now operating under ‘Operation Frontier Sentinel', a 17th USCG District operation “designed to meet presence with presence” when strategic competitors operate in and around US waters, USCG officials said.

“We will meet presence with presence to ensure there are no disruptions to US interests in the maritime environment around Alaska,” said Rear Admiral Nathan Moore, 17th Coast Guard District commander, in a statement.

Speaking to Janes on 14 July during an interview in Juneau, Rear Adm Moore underscored the importance of that presence.

“[USCG] commandants have been talking for years about how presence equals influence,” Rear Adm Moore said. “In today's environment, there is certainly greater peer competition in the Arctic. The coastguard in Alaska [is] on the front lines of that competition.”

Augmenting the NSC surface patrols are overflight missions by HC-130J Super Hercules fixed-wing long-range surveillance aircraft out of Air Station Kodiak, the USCG gateway to the Arctic.

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