Tag Archives: Royal Navy

UK-Japan alliance goes operational on North Korea

Photo/IllutrationThe Japanese Maritime Self-Defense Force resupply vessel Tokiwa and the Royal Navy frigate Sutherland perform procedures for refueling at sea off the Kanto region on April 27. (Provided by the Maritime Self-Defense Force, published in Asahi Shinbun)

The “new type of alliance” between the UK and Japan recorded in this blog has just passed a major milestone: at this moment Royal Navy ships are operating alongside Japanese Maritime Self Defence Forces in the seas off North Korea, policing UN sanctions.

UN sanctions passed September 2017 banned various exports to North Korea in the wake of its sixth nuclear test, making it illegal for ships to transfer goods and items to North Korean vessels. But there have been reports of ships transferring oil to North Korean vessels at sea, in breach of these sanctions. “The presence of HMS Albion in the region is a demonstration of the British government and Royal Navy’s commitment to engaging in international cooperation to ensure that those sanctions are respected,” Mr Wightman (British High Commissioner to Singapore Scott Wightman) told reporters. (The Straits Times)

UN member states have the authority to inspect vessels suspected of evading UN sanctions.

Japan is now the hub of a multinational force composed of US, UK, Canadian and Australian elements. National broadcaster NHK reported on 28 April 2018  that Australia and Canada will dispatch military aircraft to a US base in Japan to monitor illicit ship-to-ship transfers involving North Korean vessels. The sources say the patrol aircraft are soon expected to be sent to the US Kadena Air Base in Okinawa Prefecture in southern Japan. This may be the first time since the Korean war in the1950s that  multiple non-Japanese forces operate from Japan.

The cancellation by President Trump of the scheduled talks with DPRK Chairman Kim Jong Un today raises tension in the region, and magnifies the significance of this informal coalition operating round the clock in the seas around the Korean peninsula. Observers of the DPRK will recall that only 8 years ago a South Korean ship “Cheonan” was sunk with the loss of 46 lives in an explosion that the authorities in Seoul attributed to the North Korean navy, probably a submarine.

It would be reasonable to assume that in addition to the aircraft and surface vessels openly engaged in the operation, there is also much more going on below the surface.

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Royal Navy establishes permanent liaison in Japan for partnership with USN and JMSDF

Vice Admiral Robert L. Thomas, Commander of US Navy 7th Fleet, UK Royal Navy Commander Simon Staley, and Warren Edge, MAST meet during a recent visit to Yokosuka, Japan

Vice Admiral Robert L. Thomas, Commander of US Navy 7th Fleet, UK Royal Navy Commander Simon Staley, and Warren Edge, MAST meet during a recent visit to Yokosuka, Japan

As part of the UK’s policy to strengthen its presence and situation awareness in E. Asia, the Royal Navy has posted an officer as permanent liaison to the US 7th Fleet, based in Yokosuka. Cmdr. Simon Staley is also tasked with establishing the position of U.K. liaison officer to the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (JMSDF), the first time the Royal Navy had such a post since the Anglo-Japan Alliance in the 1920s. Cmdr. Staley will not only establish open dialogue with his Japanese counterparts, but also study the relationship between the U.S. and Japanese and the strong alliance between the U.S. 7th Fleet and the JMSDF.

“As the only British Officer in Japan behind the defence attache, I am charged with building relationships within 7th Fleet, understanding the environment better to inform U.K. policy and navy operational training, and to make a valuable contribution to the thinking, practices and effectiveness that the 7th Fleet staff delivers to this region daily,” said Staley. “It is truly a privilege to be here recognizing not only the significance of becoming a 7th Fleet Staff officer, but also the responsibility of the ambassadorial role I have for the Royal Navy and indeed the U.K. here in Japan. Collectively, we have much to learn from each other.”

See link here for details.

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Anglo-Japan alliance and HADR for Philippines – time to ring that hotline?


So the UK and Japan have a ‘new type of alliance‘, and it has a maritime focus. And a ‘hotline‘ to coordinate actions in an emergency.

So there is a disaster in the Philippines and both the UK and Japan are using their military in the Humanitarian Assistance & Disaster Relief role (HADR). Japan is sending its Self Defence Forces too.

So the UK Royal Navy is sending a helicopter ship to help, but their problem is getting replenished at sea (because the supply ships take too long to steam around the world, and can’t keep up with HMS Illustrious). But you can’t just expect anyone to do RAS – it is tricky and potentially dangerous, so it takes practice. Hmmm.

But wait, didn’t the RN and the MSDF cooperate in the Indian Ocean a little while ago, with Japan’s ships replenishing the RN and others with fuel, etc?

Mr. Abe, Mr. Cameron, what are you waiting for?



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