The Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy recently completed its 1,600th escort mission amid emerging signs of danger in the Gulf of Aden, making concrete efforts to safeguard peace and stability in the world as it strides to become a blue-water navy, experts said on Wednesday.
The 45th escort task force of the PLA Navy on Monday took turns and escorted the Portuguese UHL Fighter heavy load carrier and the Panama Heilan Rising bulk carrier as they sailed past a dangerous area, China Central Television (CCTV) reported on Tuesday.
When passing through the complicated area, the task force sent helicopter sorties to conduct aerial alert patrol and had warships move forward to conduct search and verification to enhance early warning effectiveness, CCTV reported.
"There are obvious signs of piracy activities in the Gulf of Aden, so escorting from a long range cannot effectively guarantee the safety of passing vessels. To address this issue, we combined the methods of relay escorts and accompanying escorts when escorting the two commercial ships," Wang Daixin, a member of the PLA Navy 45th escort task force, said in the CCTV report.
The foreign freighters' safe arrival to a designated area marked the completion of the PLA Navy's 1,600th escort mission. To date, more than 7,200 vessels have been escorted, the report said.
More than 50 percent of the 7,200 escorted ships were foreign vessels, which shows the PLA Navy has made important contributions in promoting the building of a maritime community with a shared future through concrete action, Yin Minghui, another member of the escort task force, said in the CCTV report.
The PLA Navy 45th escort task force, consisting of the Type 052D guided missile destroyer Urumqi, the Type 054A guided missile frigate Linyi and the Type 903A comprehensive replenishment ship Dongpinghu, set out from Qingdao, East China's Shandong Province, on September 12 to take over the escort missions in the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia from the 44th escort task force.
China has been sending naval escort task forces to the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia since December 2008.
The PLA Navy has made tremendous achievements in developing its far sea capabilities in recent years in a move to build a blue-water navy, a Chinese military expert, who boarded a PLA vessel in a previous escort mission, told the Global Times on Wednesday, requesting anonymity.
China is using those capabilities to provide public security goods to the international community and contribute to the peace and stability of the world, in addition to safeguarding China's overseas interests and commercial sea lanes, the expert said.