Flashpoints | Security | East Asia

Japanese Naval Ship Involved in Collision With Chinese Fishing Vessel in East China Sea

The incident resulted in damage to JS Shimakaze.

Ankit Panda
Japanese Naval Ship Involved in Collision With Chinese Fishing Vessel in East China Sea

JS Hatakaze, the lead ship of the Hatakaze-class.

Credit: OS2 John Bouvia, USN via Wikimedia Commons

A Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force (MSDF) warship was involved in a collision with a Chinese fishing vessel, the Japan Coast Guard said on Tuesday. The incident took place on Monday in international waters off the coast of Shanghai in the East China Sea.

According to Japanese authorities, no crew were injured in the incident. The Self-Defense Forces’ Joint Staff added that the incident took place at approximately 8:30 p.m. on Monday. The MSDF vessel involved was JS Shimakaze, a Hatakaze-class guided missile destroyer that has been frequently sent in recent years on deployments to the East China Sea.

According to Japanese authorities, JS Shimakaze received unspecified physical damage to its hull on the port side of the vessel. JS Shimakaze was on a regular patrol in the waters when it was involved in the collision after leaving from the port of Sasebo on Sunday, Japanese authorities said. The Japanese Ministry of Defense, MSDF, and Japan Coast Guard are investigating the incident.

Hatakaze-class destroyers in service with the MSDF are gas propulsion warships equipped with a range of advanced armaments and sensors. Weapons systems on board Hatakaze-class vessels include Standard Missile medium-range surface-to-air missiles, the RGM-84 Harpoon ship-to-ship missile, and the ASROC anti-submarine rocket. The vessel also features close-in weapon systems (CIWS) and Mark 42 guns.

The incident is the second in March to involve a Chinese fishing vessel in a collision. As The Diplomat reported last week, Taiwan’s Coast Guard Administration reported that one of its vessels was struck by a Chinese fishing vessel in waters off the Kinmen islands.

Enjoying this article? Click here to subscribe for full access. Just $5 a month.

China has been criticized for using civilian fishing vessels as a “maritime militia” to exercise administrative rights by fishing and conducting other activities in disputed waters. Territorial claimant states in the South China Sea, for instance, face illegal fishing activities by Chinese fishing vessels in their claimed waters regularly.

In 2010, China and Japan entered a major diplomatic crisis after a Chinese fishing trawler collided with a Japan Coast Guard patrol boat in waters near the disputed Senkaku Islands, which are administered by Japan and claimed by China as the Diaoyu Islands. Japan arrested the captain of the Chinese vessel, sparking angry protests from China.

The incident spiraled into a major dispute and China retaliated against Japan by imposing an unofficial embargo on the transfer of Chinese rare-earth metals to Japanese firms.

Naval vessels from other countries have been involved in collisions with civilian vessels in recent years. Most prominently, two U.S. Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, USS Fitzgerald and USS John S. McCain, were involved in fatal collision incidents in 2017.