24 February 2017

USA: USS Hopper returns to Pearl Harbor from deployment

From Naval Surface Group Middle Pacific Public Affairs

USS Hopper (DDG 70) file photo. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Jon Dasbach) >>

PEARL HARBOR - Arleigh-Burke class guided-missile destroyer USS Hopper (DDG 70) returned home from a 180-day independent deployment to the Arabian Gulf, Western Pacific, and Indian Ocean, Feb. 21.

While deployed to the U.S. 5th and 7th Fleets, the ship and crew of more than 330 Sailors, assigned to Destroyer Squadron (CDS) 9, conducted presence and maritime security operations and integrated with six different combined task forces while independently deployed.

"This was an incredible deployment which saw six different task forces, which means six different missions and operations, some of which were 'firsts' and set new precedents on what is expected from an independent deployer," said Cmdr. J.D. Gainey, Hopper's commanding officer.

USA: U.S.-Japan-Republic of Korea Trilateral Meeting in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy Joseph Yun will host a trilateral meeting in Washington, February 27, with Japanese Ministry of Foreign Affairs Director General for Asian and Oceanian Affairs Kenji Kanasugi and Republic of Korea (ROK) Special Representative for Korean Peninsula Peace and Security Affairs Kim Hong-kyun. 

The three plan to discuss the situation in North Korea as a follow up to the trilateral U.S.-Japan-ROK Foreign Ministerial meeting held earlier this month in Bonn. 

Special Representative Yun will also hold bilateral meetings with both Director General Kanasugi and Special Representative Kim.

India: INS Betwa on Even Keel - to be Fully Operational by Apr 2018

INS Betwa laying on her side in dry-dock
INS Betwa, a P-16A Class frigate has been made upright by the unstinted efforts put in by the Naval Dockyard, Mumbai and the salvage firm M/s Resolve Marine, specially contracted for the operation. It may be recalled that, the ship which was undergoing major repairs, had keeled on to her side during her undocking on 05 Dec 2016. 

The salvage operations were progressed on a war footing and the initial stabilisation of the ship was achieved by 29 Dec 2016. The complete salvage operation involving complex hydrodynamic calculations and rigging up of intricate measuring and monitoring systems was completed in less than two months. 

As the ship was undergoing major refit and mid-life up-gradation since Apr 2016, majority of the equipment/ machinery had already been removed for routine servicing/ replacement with upgraded equipment. 

Indian Navy is confident that with in-house expertise and sustained efforts, the ship will be made fully operational by her scheduled date of refit completion i.e by Apr 2018. 

News Report: Indian Navy Saves Its Massively Damaged Guided Missile Frigate Betwa

INS Betwa laying on her side in the dry-dock
India's Ministry of Defense document shows that more than two dozen accidents have been reported involving naval warships and submarines since 2011.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — India has saved its most spirited ship that tipped over at a Mumbai dockyard last December. Defense sources say that INS Betwa, a guided missile frigate, is back on even keel. The Indian Navy hopes that the ship will be operational by 2018. The Indian Navy has spent approximately three million dollar in the process. Winner of the Indian Navy's "most spirited ship" award for the year 2016 had tipped over on December 5 during undocking evolution and it was suspected that the dock-block mechanism had failed. The accident had left two sailors dead and 14 injured.

"The ship was made upright on Tuesday night and is now floating on even keel. The condition is good. There is some water inside which is being pumped out," Navy Spokesperson Capt DK Sharma said. The ship would now be moved to a nearby dock either Hughes or Duncan.

News Report: Tokyo's Protest Over Russia's Division on Kurils is Inappropriate – Russian MP

Japan’s protest over Russia’s plan to deploy a division on its Kuril Islands is inappropriate considering there is a naval base of the United States in Okinawa, Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, told Sputnik on Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the ministry would deploy a division on the Kuril Islands this year. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced the following day that Tokyo had sent a note of protest over the plans.

"To say the least, these protests are inappropriate, they are not based on the international law," Ozerov said.

According to Ozerov, it might as well be expected that the United States would withdraw its naval base from Okinawa.

"Let them do this and we will think about the division on the Kuril [Islands]," Ozerov noted.

Japan lays claim to Russia's Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan islands and the Habomai group of islets. Tokyo's stance has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty after World War II.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Russia Has No Intention to Use Military on Kuril Islands Against Japan

Russia does not intend to use its division which will be deployed to the Kuril Islands against Japan and is ready for military cooperation with Tokyo on the issue, Viktor Ozerov, chairman of the defense committee in the Russian upper house of parliament, told Sputnik on Thursday.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said that the ministry would deploy a division on the Kuril Islands this year. Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga announced the following day that Tokyo had sent a note of protest over the plans.

"We do not intend to use our armed forces against Japan by deploying them to the Kuril Islands … We are ready to cooperate, including in the military sector, in the sphere of countering terrorism and theft of marine biological resources," Ozerov said.

Japan lays claim to Russia's Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan islands and the Habomai group of islets. Tokyo's stance has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty after World War II.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Japan Lodges Protest Over Russia's Plan to Deploy Division on Kurils

Japan sent a note of protest against Russia over its plan to deploy a division on the Kuril Islands later in the year, Japanese Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said Thursday.

TOKYO (Sputnik) — On Wednesday, Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu announced a plan to deploy a division on the Kuril Islands in 2017 in the framework of the border protection measures.

"The protest was submitted via diplomatic channels on [February] 22 and 23. It is regrettable if the Russian Armed Forces enhances its military presence… [there]. It is at odds with the position of our state," Suga said at press conference.

Japan lays claim to Russia's Kunashir, Iturup, Shikotan islands and the Habomai group of islets. Tokyo's stance has prevented Russia and Japan from signing a peace treaty after World War II.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: 3 Soldiers, 1 Civilian Killed in Attack on Patrolling Party in Kashmir

One civilian and three soldiers were killed in India’s northern Jammu and Kashmir state when militants attacked Cordon and Search Operation servicemen.

NEW DELHI (Sputnik) – One civilian and three soldiers were killed and three others were injured in India’s northern Jammu and Kashmir state when militants attacked Cordon and Search Operation (CASO) servicemen, local media report.

The attack took place on the night from Wednesday to Thursday and resulted in the injury of six army personnel including two officers, Kashmir Reader said on Thursday citing police. Three of the soldiers later died from the injuries.

A woman of Mulu area was hit by a stray bullet during the ambush attack and died from her injuries, Kashmir Reader added.

The region of Kashmir has been disputed between India and Pakistan since the partition of British India in 1947. New Delhi has repeatedly accused Islamabad of backing terrorism in the area, but Pakistan has denied any role in the insurgency.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Police Officials to Obtain DNA Sample From Son of Killed Kim Jong-nam

Kim Jong-Nam (Image: Flickr User - Conecta Abogados)
Malaysian police officials plan to get a DNA sample from the son of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half-brother Kim Jong-nam, killed earlier this month, media report.

TOKYO (Sputnik) – Three police officials left for Macau on Wednesday with the DNA sample of Kim Jong-nam that will be analyzed together with the sample that his son had agreed to provide, The Straits Times said on Thursday citing Chinese media reports.

According to the Sin Chew daily cited by the newspaper, Kim Jong-nam’s son Kim Han Sol agreed to provide a DNA sample in an arrangement facilitated by Interpol.

Kim Jong-nam, the eldest son of North Korea's late leader Kim Jong-il and older half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un was killed as he was preparing to board a flight to Macau on February 13.

On Sunday, Malaysian authorities confirmed that they were working with Interpol to apprehend alleged accomplices in the murder of Kim Jong-nam. A day later, ambassador of North Korea to Malaysia Kang Chol called for a joint Pyongyang-Kuala Lumpur investigation into the murder of Kim Jong-nam, however, on Wednesday, Malaysian police said Kuala Lumpur opposed a joint investigation and called on Pyongyang to transfer four suspects in Kim's killing.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: Southeast Asia, China Move Toward Elusive Deal to Avoid Conflicts in Contested Sea

Ralph Jennings

TAIPEI, TAIWAN — A group of 10 Southeast Asian nations will try again this year to sign documentation for a code of conduct aimed at preventing mishaps in the fractious South China Sea, as many have formed new bonds with Beijing despite its extensive, controversial maritime activities.

The Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) will make the framework for a code of conduct a "top priority" this year under Philippine leadership, the Department of Foreign Affairs in Manila said. China and ASEAN have set a 2017 goal of approving the framework, the department's undersecretary told Philippine media in January.

Later approval of a full-blown code would spell out how claimant governments can avoid mishaps as their naval ships, coast guards and fishing boats work the same contested 3.5 million-square-kilometer ocean, stretching from Taiwan southwest to Singapore.

China is expected to support a code framework this year after half a decade of resisting it. Beijing's approval would cast itself as a cooperative neighbor, analysts say.

The world's No. 2 economy and No. 3 military power has sidestepped the code over the past decade because it prefers to avoid talks with groups of countries that can reduce its bargaining weight. It may also have feared the code would erode actual Chinese claims in the sea.