The 26th PLA Escort Naval Fleet, comprising Type 054A FFGs Huanggang 577 and Yangzhou 578 and the fleet tanker Gaoyouhu 966 from the PLAN’s East China Sea Fleet departed from Zhoushan City of east China’s Zhejiang Province on April 1, 2017 and arrived at its mission area in the Gulf of Aden after successively passing through the Miyako Strait, the Makassar Strait, the Sunda Strait and the Indian Ocean.
This Fleet also contained a double-hulled Type S-20 Yuan-class SSK along with a Type 925 Chongmingdao 302 submarine support vessel, and that is why the Fleet avoided entering the Malacca Straits, which requires all submarines to surface while cruising through this Strait. Both this vessel and the SSK later did an operational turnaround in Karachi in late May 2017.
By the third week of June 2017 there was an increase in activity by PLAN vessels in the Indian Ocean. A Type 813 auxiliary general intelligence (AGI) ship, Haiwingxing 852 (Neptune), of the PLAN’s South Sea Fleet, was spotted entering the Indian Ocean via the Sunda Strait, and this vessel will monitor the forthcoming week-long India-US-Japan Malabar naval exercise in the Bay of Bengal from July 10.
The Type 813 AGI ship displaces about 4,000 tons and is used for SIGINT/ELINT data pertaining to the performance of radars and their IFF transponders, telemetry, navigation systems and acting jamming systems. There are two domes on the vessel’s superstructure that house high-sensitivity passive sensors for recording distant enemy radar emissions.
The PLAN presently operates six AGI vessels. The Beijixing 851 (Polaris) servfes with the East Sea Fleet, the Haiwangxing 852 (Neptune) with the South Sea Fleet, the Tianwangxing 853 (Uranus) with the East Sea Fleet, the Tianlangxing 854 (Sirius) with the North Sea Fleet, the 855 AGI vessel with the South Sea Fleet, and the Kaiyangxing 856 (Mizar) with the North Sea Fleet.
The seventh such vessel is now being fitted-out at the Shanghai-based, CSSC-owned Hudong-Zhonghua Shipyard.
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