Chinese, Japanese Navy Ships in Friendly Waters
Recent reports have confirmed that the Chinese missile destroyer Lanzhou and the Japanese helicopter carrier Kaga have had a near miss along the area of the South China Sea. While tensions are high in that particular region, the resulting encounter was not what many would have predicted.
As reported by Japanese state broadcaster NHK, the two navy ships did not exchange inflammatory radio communications despite their opposite sides on the matter about the South China Sea. According to the report, during the early hours of Oct. 25, the People's Liberation Army's ship Lanzhou radioed the crew of the Japanese helicopter carrier Kaga a rather friendly message.
The message according to reports is, "Good morning, glad to see you." The Japanese ship, in return, also replied with a friendly message.
Contrary to the recent engagement, Chinese navy ships would often warn foreign vessels that are trying to approach its territorial waters located in the South China Sea. China's navy would sometimes use various maneuvers in order to assert their claim in the region.
In the past, Chinese and Japanese ships have had several face-offs in the disputed region. China has been very critical of Japan's actions in the South China Sea claiming that the country has is not a claimant of the highly disputed waters.
While the recent engagement is seen by many observers as a cooling off point to a rather tension-filled region, it incidentally came at a time when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe was on a high-profile state visit to China. At around this time, Prime Minister Abe, along with Chinese President Xi Jinping, agreed to end hostilities in the disputed region.
Some military observers noted that the Chinese navy may have been instructed not to confront or overreact to Japanese ships that are sailing in international waters. Furthermore, there may have been orders not to provoke any negative actions towards their Japanese counterparts. As for the Chinese navy ships, it showed no objection to the Japanese ship's freedom of navigation.
The Kaga is a helicopter carrier which is capable of servicing dozens of search and rescue and anti-submarine helicopters. The ship is crewed by 400 personnel.
On the other hand, the Chinese navy's Lanzhou is a destroyer which is part of the South China Sea fleet. It is considered as a Type 052C destroyer.
The Lanzhou has been on several close calls in the past few months in the South China Sea region. The most recent of these close calls happen in September when it nearly collided with the United States Navy's Arleigh Burke-class destroyer Decatur.