Coast Guard encountered Chinese warships in the Aleutians in August

During a routine maritime patrol in the Bering Sea and Arctic region, U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Bertholf spotted and established radio contact with Chinese People’s Liberation Army Navy task force in international waters within the U.S. exclusive economic zone, Aug. 30, 2021. (U.S. Coast Guard photo by Ensign Bridget Boyle)

The Coast Guard encountered a flotilla of Chinese warships 46 miles off the Aleutian Islands at the end of August, inside of the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone, according to a news release Monday evening. 

The exclusive economic zone extends off the country’s coastline, including off the coast of Alaska. The U.S. has jurisdiction over natural resources in the waters.

The Coast Guard said the four Chinese warships included a guided missile cruiser, a guided missile destroyer, a general intelligence vessel and an auxiliary vessel.

No interaction occurred between Chinese vessels and American Coast Guard or American fishing vessels, according to the Coast Guard’s release. It said the Chinese vessels have right of passage through the economic exclusion zone, and were in full compliance with international maritime law.

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Scott McCann, a Coast Guard spokesperson, would not speculate on the reason for the Chinese warships’ visit when asked Tuesday morning. He said it’s been several years since Chinese warships last entered the economic zone off Alaska.

The Coast Guard encountered the vessels with the Bertholf and Kimball legend-Class national security cutters and Healy, a medium icebreaker.  

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