News Briefs – April 6, 2018

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Navy adds $57 million to pay for repair of damaged destroyer

The U.S. Navy is adding another $57 million to what it’s paying a Mississippi shipyard to repair a destroyer damaged in a June collision that killed seven sailors.
The additional contract for repairing the USS Fitzgerald was awarded April 3 to Ingalls Shipbuilding of Pascagoula, Mississippi. The destroyer arrived at Ingalls in January. A June 17 collision with a Philippine-flagged container ship caved in parts of the Fitzgerald above and below the waterline.
Ingalls, part of Virginia-based Huntington Ingalls Industries, already received a $63 million contract to rip out damaged areas. Repairs and modernization are expected to take until mid-2019.
Secretary of the Navy Richard Spencer has said it could cost $600 million combined to repair the Fitzgerald and the USS John S. McCain, another destroyer that was damaged in August. AP
 

Russia launches three-day Baltic maneuvers

The Russian navy has launched drills in the Baltic Sea that have raised worries in NATO member Latvia.
The Russian Defense Ministry said the three-day exercises that started April 4 will involve the firing of live ammunition at sea and air targets.
Shipborne helicopters will also conduct training flights and practice searching for enemy submarines. Three corvettes and a frigate are taking part.
Latvia’s Defense Ministry has summoned Russia’s military attache to demand details of the drills.
In a statement last week after learning of the plan, it said the maneuvers would disrupt sea transport civilian flights and that the exercises are “perceived as provocative and can be considered a display of power.”
Relations between Russia and NATO have deteriorated in recent years over the conflict in Ukraine and other issues. AP
 

China’s defense chief calls his Moscow trip a signal to U.S.

China’s new defense minister says his visit to Russia is a signal to the United States about the increasingly close military ties between Moscow and Beijing.
The unusually bold statement April 3 by Gen. Wei Fenghe reflected the growing military cooperation between the two former Communist rivals.
Speaking in Moscow at the start of his talks with Russian Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, Wei emphasized that he chose Russia for his first trip abroad since becoming the international face of China’s military last month to “show the world a high level of development of our bilateral relations and firm determination of our armed forces to strengthen strategic cooperation.”
Wei added he would attend the April 4 security conference hosted by the Russian Defense Ministry to “let the Americans know about the close ties between the armed forces of China and Russia.”
Shoigu said Wei’s visit “underlines a special character of relations between Russia and China,” adding that it will help further deepen ties between the two militaries.
Moscow and Beijing have forged what they described as a “strategic partnership,” expressing their shared opposition to the “unipolar” world — the term they use to describe perceived U.S. global domination.
As part of their burgeoning military cooperation, Moscow and Beijing have conducted joint military maneuvers, including exercises in the South China Sea and last summer’s joint navy drills in the Baltics.
The Baltic exercise marked the first time that China had flexed its military muscle in a region where tensions between Russia and NATO have escalated following Moscow’s 2014 annexation of Crimea.
In December, the Russian and Chinese militaries held missile defense drills intended to practice a joint response to missile threats from other countries. AP