Key Words: Somali; escort fleet
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>> China's 13th escort fleet departs for Somali waters
QINGDAO, Shandong, Feb. 16 (Xinhua) -- The 14th naval squad, sent by the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Navy, departed Saturday from China to the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters for escort missions.
The squad, which set sail from a port in Qingdao of east China's Shandong Province, will succeed the 13th escort fleet currently conducting missions in Somali waters.
The 14th convoy fleet comprises three ships -- the missile destroyer Harbin, the frigate Mianyang and the supply ship Weishanhu -- carrying two helicopters and a 730-strong troop, all from the North China Sea Fleet under the PLA Navy.
It is the first time the destroyer and the frigate are conducting escort missions.
Since December 2008, authorized by the United Nations, the Chinese navy has organized 14 fleets to the waters of the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters to escort 5,046 Chinese and foreign ships. More than 50 Chinese and foreign ships have been rescued or assisted during the missions.
At Saturday's farewell ceremony, Ding Yiping, deputy commander of the PLA Navy, said it will be more challenging for the Chinese and foreign navies to track pirates and rescue kidnapped hostages as activities in the Gulf of Aden and Somali waters become more deceptive and violent.
Ding urged the squad, with Yuan Yubai, chief of staff of the PLA Navy's North China Sea Fleet as commander, to draw on the experience from previous missions to enhance its capability and effectiveness during the escort mission.
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