Landing Training, South China Sea

South China Sea landing craft

Image courtesy of U.S. Navy

Landing Training, South China Sea
| published September 6, 2014 |

By Thursday Review staff


In this photograph taken a few days ago, a pair of U.S. Navy beach landing craft and their amphibious crews train in the South China Sea, somewhere near the Philippines. These craft are assigned to the Naval Beach Unit 7 (NBU-7), as part of exercises with the USS Germantown (seen in background), which is assigned to the U.S. 7th Fleet area of responsibility. The soft-landing type craft are designed to quickly and effectively insert Marines, soldiers and military equipment onto beaches and small islands.

Tensions have been rising in the South China Sea because of recent military and technological moves by China, which asserts its claim over a variety of islands and coral reefs generally recognized by international authorities as belonging to the Philippines or to Vietnam. Both Vietnam and the Philippines have protested the construction by China of radar towers, military bases, landing strips, surveillance stations, and other high tech facilities in the Spratly Islands (Philippines) and the Paracels (Vietnam). Since 1947, China has maintained its claim over these islands, but in the last few years its construction of military outposts on these islands has increased greatly, generating tension and even protests in other countries.

Further heightening tensions have been those four cases of extremely close fly-bys and close intercepts by Chinese military pilots in the last several months. In some cases Chinese aviators have flown their heavily-armed fighter jets to within 30 feet of U.S. reconnaissance and surveillance planes over international waters near Japan, Taiwan and the Philippines. The most recent incident occurred a few weeks ago about 135 miles east of Hainan. The Pentagon has complained that the intercepts and “top-gun” incidents are in violation of international law, inconsistent with military discipline, and provocative to the point of extreme danger.

The photograph shown in this article was taken by U.S. Navy photographer Patrick Dionne.

Related Thursday Review articles:

Troubles in the South China Sea; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; August 23, 2014.

A Looming War at Sea; R. Alan Clanton; Thursday Review; August 11, 2014.