If there are two submarine tenders in that task force ......
Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012
Seven Chinese Navy warships skirt Okinawa
Seven Chinese warships passed Tuesday through Japan's contiguous zone, a band of water just outside the nation's territorial waters, near an Okinawa island, the Defense Ministry said.
The ships, including destroyers and frigates, were spotted at around 7 a.m. sailing from the Pacific Ocean to the East China Sea about 49 km south-southeast of Yonaguni Island, which is 110 km east of Taiwan.
The seven vessels confirmed by Maritime Self-Defense Force P-3C reconnaissance aircraft were heading north-northeast south of the disputed Senkaku Islands, according to the ministry.
Defense Minister Satoshi Morimoto told reporters he was unsure of the purpose of the flotilla. "At present, we don't see any helicopters flying from the vessels," he added.
It is the first time Chinese naval vessels have been spotted in the 22-km-wide contiguous zone between Yonaguni and Iriomote islands, the ministry said.
Sailing in the contiguous zone, which connects to 12-nautical mile territorial waters, poses no problem under international law. In the zone, Japan can apply its laws for customs procedures and immigration control.
Sources said the Chinese warships did not intend to provoke the Self-Defense Forces or enter the contiguous zone near the Senkakus, which Japan controls but China claims.
The Defense Ministry suspects the task force may have passed the area to avoid a typhoon.