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Chinese navy completes 15 escort missions in Gulf of Aden
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09:21, February 07, 2009

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The Chinese navy has carried out 15 escort missions to date since the country started its deep-sea escorting task against rampant piracy in the Gulf of Aden, an official said on Friday.

He Jianzhong, spokesman of the Ministry of Transport, said in a press conference that the navy has protected 33 vessels, 17 of which were from the Chinese mainland, 15 from Hong Kong and one from Taiwan.

To ensure the safety of merchant vessels, warships wait several hours before a merchant vessels' arrival and escort them though for an undisclosed time and mileage, he said.

In addition to protecting Chinese civilian vessels and crews, including those from Hong Kong, Macao and Taiwan, Chinese navy also offered escorts to foreign vessels upon request.

China initiated its escort task force on Dec. 26 after the United Nations Security Council called on countries to patrol gulf and waters off Somalia, one of the world's busiest marine routes, where surging piracy endangers intercontinental shipping.

Before the task force was deployed, more than 1,200 Chinese merchant ships passed through the Gulf of Aden in 2008. Seven vessels were attacked by pirates.

The Gulf of Aden is a key trade route linking the Indian Ocean with the Mediterranean via the Suez Canal.

Source: Xinhua

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