UK, Dutch & Danish navies escort Chinese warships heading to Baltic for drills with Russia (PHOTOS)
“A Chinese frigate, a supply ship and a destroyer are passing through Danish waters. We are escorting [them] as part of the normal surveillance we have in our territorial waters,” Klaus Thing Rasmussen, senior duty officer at the Danish military operations center, told the DR broadcaster.
Rasmussen, however, declined to reveal the exact location of the Chinese ships.
“We sent one unit out to them last night, when they were approaching Danish waters. It will take around a day in total until they leave again near Bornholm, where they entered, and we will escort them the entire way,” he said.
“Our position is that there is free passage through the Baltic Sea, and the Danish Navy acts as a stopper in the gap. That means we accompany foreign state vessels as part of our surveillance of Danish waters,” he added.
The Chinese flotilla hasn't had much time to itself as it moves towards the Baltic. On Monday, the Dutch navy confirmed that its fleet had also dispatched an escort.
“Footage at first light of the Chinese Task Group passing the North Sea towards the Baltic region, escorted by HNLMS Van Amstel,” Rob Verkerk, commander of the Royal Netherlands Navy, wrote on Twitter.
The ‘HNLMS Van Amstel’ (F831), a Karel Doorman-class ship, is one of the multipurpose frigates of the Dutch navy.
During the weekend, the Chinese vessels were also escorted by ‘HMS Richmond’, a Type 23 frigate of the UK Royal Navy.
“We can confirm that ‘HMS Richmond’ has escorted a Chinese Navy Task Group through the UK area of interest,” a Royal Navy spokesperson told the Sun.
The Baltic phase of the Russian-Chinese exercise starts on Friday, and will involve about a dozen warships in addition to military aircraft and helicopters from both sides, the Russian Defense Ministry said on Monday.
Chinese forces are scheduled to arrive in the naval base of Baltiysk in Russia's Kaliningrad Region on July 21 for an official welcoming ceremony. The active phase of the drills will be held between July 24 and 27.
Earlier in July, the Chinese navy said that the Type 052D ‘Hefei’ destroyer would be deployed for the drills. The warship is accompanied by the missile frigate ‘Yuncheng’ and the ‘Luomahu’ replenishment ship.
The second stage of the Chinese-Russian drills will continue in the Sea of Japan and the Sea of Okhotsk in September.