A Chinese navy surveillance ship is being closely tracked by the Australian military as it makes its way towards Queensland waters.
The Tianwangxing, which translates as ‘Uranus’, is scheduled to arrive in local waters on Friday to monitor large-scale Australia-US military exercises beginning this week, defence sources told the ABC.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton confirmed the Australian Defence Force (ADF) has been closely monitoring the Chinese military ship ahead of the Talisman Sabre 2021 war games between Australia and the United States which begin on Wednesday.
The Tianwangxing vessel, is scheduled to arrive on Friday ahead of large-scale military exercises beginning this week
‘We are aware that the People’s Liberation Army (Navy) general intelligence ship Tianwangxing is approaching Australia’s east coast via the Torres Strait,’ Mr Dutton said.
‘We have been monitoring its approach to Australia for several days as part of Australia’s broader surveillance effort.’
This is not the first time the Chinese ship has been spotted in Australian waters.
In 2019 the same 815 vessel was tracked by the ADF while en route to monitor the biennial Talisman Sabre War games.
The Tianwangxing is equipped with an advanced communications system, including several domes that conceal dish antennas which collect and intercept radio signals.
A military official told the ABC, under the condition of anonymity, that the ship was intentionally keeping a low profile.
In 2019 the same type 815 vessel was monitored by the ADF for the biennial Talisman Sabre games
‘The ship is in full EMCON (emissions control) at the moment, only broadcasting signals it absolutely has to,’ the official told the news outlet.
‘[It is only] responding to calls and hails by insisting that it is operating in accordance with international maritime law’.
Over the next fortnight, the Chinese vessel is expected to remain within Australia’s Exclusive Economic Zone in the Coral Sea while it monitors the war games.
The Australian Department of Defence describes the Talisman Sabre as the largest bilateral combined training activity between the ADF and US military, however the number of international participants have been scaled back due to Covid-19.
Military personnel from Japan, Canada, South Korea, New Zealand and the United Kingdom are also included in this year’s games.