SAN DIEGO – Two Chinese warships and a U.S. destroyer conducted a joint training exercise Wednesday off the Southern California coast.
The exercise came as part of a broader plan for the countries to boost maritime safety and communications by training in each other’s waters, U.S. Navy spokesman Lt. Robert Lyon said.
U.S. ships are expected to train off China’s coast at a later date, Lyon said.
The Qingdao, a guided-missile destroyer, and the refueling tanker Hongzehu teamed up with the USS Shoup for the exercise, a rescue of a nonmilitary vessel in simulated distress. The Shoup is based at Naval Station Everett.
The Chinese ships carried out a communications and passing exercise off the coast of Oahu, Hawaii, in early September.
Visits between the two militaries dropped off after the collision of a U.S. spy plane and a Chinese fighter jet off China’s coast in 2001. But relations have been improving recently as U.S. leaders cautiously seek to increase exchanges and better understand China’s rapidly modernizing military.
The trip marks the first visit by Chinese warships to the U.S. since 2000, when the Qingdao visited Pearl Harbor and Everett. Lyon said the Chinese ships would head to Canada after Wednesday’s exercise.