The U.S. Navy shadowed a fleet of Russian and Chinese vessels off Alaska last week, according to media reports and U.S. Northern Command.

The Wall Street Journal first reported Saturday that 11 Russian and Chinese ships were steaming near Alaska’s Aleutian Islands, citing anonymous U.S. officials.

According to the Journal report, those ships never entered U.S. waters but were shadowed by a P-8 Poseidon aircraft and four destroyers.

The Journal report does not note which days last week the patrol arrived near Alaska. NORTHCOM confirmed the sequence of events to Navy Times Monday but declined further comment.

“NORAD and USNORTHCOM actively monitored the Russian and Chinese combined naval patrol that operated near Alaska earlier this week,” according to a statement from the command. “Air and maritime assets under our commands conducted operations to assure the defense of the United States and Canada. The patrol remained in international waters and was not considered a threat.”

The Journal cited Russian and Chinese officials who said the patrol was not aimed at anything other than joint patrols and maritime operations.

The Associated Press reported the start of joint China-Russia naval drills in July and cited China’s state-run Xinhua News Agency reporting that the drills would involve more than 10 ships and 30-plus aircraft.

Speaking at the Aspen Security Forum in July, the head of U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Adm. John Aquilino, said cooperation between Beijing and Moscow is creating “a dangerous world.”

He also mentioned the Russian and Chinese combined patrol during his remarks at the forum on July 20.

“We’ll see where that ends up, whether it’s off the Aleutian Islands, whether it’s the Philippine Sea, whether it goes to Guam, whether it goes to Hawaii or whether it goes off the West Coast of the United States,” Aquilino said, according to a transcript of the event posted to the command’s website. “Their exercises have increased, their operations have increased.”

“I only see the cooperation getting stronger, and, boy, that’s concerning,” he added.

According to the Journal, the destroyers John S. McCain, Benfold, John Finn and Chung-Hoon were dispatched to follow the flotilla.

John S. McCain is based out of Everett, Washington, while John Finn and Benfold are based in Yokosuka, Japan, and Chung-Hoon is homeported in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.

Geoff is the editor of Navy Times, but he still loves writing stories. He covered Iraq and Afghanistan extensively and was a reporter at the Chicago Tribune. He welcomes any and all kinds of tips at

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