China / Cover Story

Navy ensures navigation in a sea of danger

By Li Xiaokun (China Daily) Updated: 2011-12-26 09:19

Escort fleet keeps the menace of pirates at bay, Li Xiaokun reports from Beijing.

After spending months escorting vessels in the Gulf of Aden, Wang Hongmin found it no surprise that China plays a leading role ensuring ships from around the globe safely navigate pirate-plagued waters.

Navy ensures navigation in a sea of danger

Soldiers are put through their paces on a merchant vessel before an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden earlier this year. [Chen Zhiyuan / for China Daily] 

"The Chinese escort fleet is very reliable in terms of escort missions," he said. "I mean, since many navies choose to patrol certain waters, the Chinese are accompanying the vessels exactly from site A to B, and then back from B to A, like a nanny who doesn't go a step away."

Wang spoke to China Daily on the eve of Monday's third anniversary of China sending escort fleets to the Gulf of Aden.

According to the Ministry of Defense, Chinese forces have escorted more than 4,300 Chinese and foreign ships in the gulf, and all missions were completed successfully.

A former captain of the missile frigate Xuzhou, one of China's most advanced vessels of its type, Wang led his crew as part of the third and seventh escort fleets that Beijing sent to waters off Somalia in 2009 and 2010-2011.

In the latter mission, his crew "fortunately" - as Wang put it - became the first group of Chinese servicemen to militarily engage with confirmed pirates.

They were also given the honor of being the first ship to escort a large number of Chinese citizens forced to leave Libya during the recent political turbulence that led to the downfall of the Muammar Gadhafi regime.

Theirs also was the first Chinese navy ship to escort a large number of overseas Chinese citizens on the start of their journey home from Libya when Muammar Gaddafi's government started to collapse.

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