Saturday, March 3, 2012

China sends 11th flotilla to patrol in Gulf of Aden

Chinese navy is gaining valuable experience operating far from home port.



A Chinese Navy relief task force has left for the Gulf of Aden to escort ships off Somalia’s pirate-infested waters.

The eleventh rotation of its standing anti-piracy patrol left a port in Qingdao, Shandong province, on Tuesday.

The task force comprises the Type 052 destroyer Qingdao and the Type 054A frigate Yantai, as well as the supply ship Weishanhu. The ships carry 800 naval personnel, including Special Forces and two helicopters.

China sent its first convoy fleet to the Gulf of Aden in December 2008. To date, Chinese navy fleets have escorted 4 500 ships from countries all over the world and rescued 50 ships attacked by pirates.

Late last month the People's Liberation Army Navy held the International Symposium on Counter-Piracy and Escort Operations in China's eastern city of Nanjing. Delegations from more than 20 states and organizations came together to discuss anti-piracy efforts in Somalia, such as the sharing of naval intelligence, hostage rescue operations, legal issues, logistics and cooperation.

Piracy is a big problem in the Gulf of Aden as Somali pirates prey on ships sailing in the waters off the lawless horn of Africa country, raking in millions of dollars in ransoms and driving up shipping costs. Maritime piracy costs the global economy US$12 billion a year according to researchers.

As of February 29, pirates have hijacked 6 vessels out of 62 attempts this year. Somali pirates have been responsible for four of those successful hijackings and are currently holding 12 vessels and 177 hostages, according to the International Maritime Bureau.

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