Chinese naval squad returns from successful escort duty in Somali waters

10:03, April 24, 2010      

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More than 800 officers and soldiers with Chinese People's Liberation Army Navy returned home Friday morning to a naval base in the Zhoushan Islands in eastern China after serving in Somali waters.

During the 128-day tour of duty, the flotilla rescued three merchant ships from pirate attacks and escorted 661 vessels, including a 20-km-long flotilla of 31 merchant ships, reportedly the biggest ship group to have been escorted in the Gulf of Aden.

The group saw its biggest action Feb. 25, when about 100 suspicious vessels were fast approaching and reportedly "harassing" the merchant ships. Shipboard helicopters took off and launched warning shots at several small boats that were about to attack.

According to a Xinhua reporter on board one helicopter, the suspicious vessels, intimidated by high explosive shells and flares, fled.

Previously, the shipboard helicopters had made six emergency takeoffs and drove off five groups of suspicious vessels.

The team also visited the United Arab Emirates and the Philippines at the invitation of the two nations' navies.

Two frigates, along with the supply ship Qiandaohu, set sail for the Gulf of Aden Oct.30, 2009 and arrived in the Gulf of Aden Nov. 12.

Source: Xinhua


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