The Australian Government Department of Defence is aware of a People’s Liberation Army-Navy (PLAN) Intelligence Collection Vessel operating off the north-west shelf of Australia. The Department of Defence can confirm the vessel is a PLAN, Dongdiao Class Auxiliary Intelligence ship named Haiwangxing. The Haiwangxing travelled down the west coast of Australia to the vicinity of Exmouth, before changing course to track east along the north-west coast. The Department of Defence is actively monitoring the current activities of the Chinese Intelligence Collection Vessel off the north-west coast of Western Australia with a combination of air and maritime capabilities.
The Type 815, as well as its derivatives Type 815G and Type 815A, are Chinese electronic surveillance ships in service with the People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN). Type 815 spy ship has received NATO reporting name Dongdiao class (meaning East Investigation), while its successors Type 815G & 815A have received NATO reporting name Dongdiao II class. In 2009 an improved version appeared, designated as Type 815G, and the most obvious external visual difference between Type 815G and earlier Type 815 is that the former has a different mast somewhat similar to a pagoda shape, and the sheer line is curved at a greater angle.
The Type 815 is the most common spy ship deployed off the Taiwan Strait. Beginning in 2017, at least one Type 815G ship has been used to monitor each of the biennial Talisman Saber military exercises in northern Australia; in 2021, two such vessels, the Tianwangxing and her younger sister the Haiwangxing, were so deployed. The Australian Government respects the right of all states to exercise freedom of navigation and overflight in international waters and airspace, just as they expect others to respect their right to do the same. The Department of Defence will continue to monitor the ship’s operation in Australian maritime approaches.