USS Stethem Joins PLA Navy for Drills in East China Sea

The U.S. Navy’s destroyer USS Stethem teamed with People’s Liberation Army-Navy PLA(N) guided-missile frigate Xuzhou (FFG 530) to practice the Code for Unplanned Encounters at Sea (CUES) and conduct a search-and-rescue (SAR) exercise on November 20.

The Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile ship, Stethem (DDG 63) concluded a scheduled port visit to PLA(N) East Sea Fleet of Shanghai that same day, where crew members of both ships took part in cultural exchanges, ship tours and receptions.

Lieutenant Erika Betancourt, Stethem’s operations officer, said:

This is our second visit to China in three months, the strides we have made in our partnership and operational cooperation improve both our ability to conduct exercises and our interactions at sea.

CUES, a set of procedures endorsed by naval leaders at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium in April 2014, is a guideline for unplanned maritime encounters while at sea, providing standards for communication, safety procedures, and maneuvering instructions for naval ships and aircraft.

Stethem and Xuzhou rendezvoused and used CUES as a signaling protocol to indicate ship maneuvering, and passed Morse code to one another.

In the later course of the exercise, Xuzhou dropped a search-and-rescue dummy in the water, which was then retrieved by one of Stethem’s small boats.

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