EU Naval Force relations with the Chinese PLA(N) (Peoples Liberation Army) Navy are going from strength to strength following the first combined exercise at their new military base in Djibouti, EU Navfor has said.
EU Navfor personnel have already crossed decked with Chinese warships earlier this year, but a medical evacuation exercise was the first exercise of its kind. The crew of ITS Federico Martinengo and members of the Chinese PLA(N) based in Djibouti showed that with will, cooperation and hard work, there is now a great opportunity to assist each other in emergencies, EU Navfor said.
The extended cooperation followed on from the visit of Major General Stickland, EU Navfor’s Operational Commander to the Chinese PLA(N) base in Djibouti on 8 August 2018 where he held discussions on how to continue and improve the ongoing counter-piracy efforts off the coast of Somalia.
In their initial planning phase, they established communication methods, agreed operating parameters and defined the command and control structure for the exercise. Four days later, it was time to take to the skies as military medical personnel from the Chinese PLA(N) boarded the Italian helicopter to tend to several “casualties” on board ITS Federico Martinengo. During the exercise, one crew member was evacuated by helicopter back to the land based medical facility within the Chinese PLA(N) compound.
Rear Admiral Alfonso Perez De Nanclares, EU Navfor’s Force Commander congratulated Commander Andrea Quondamatteo, Commanding Officer of ITS Federico Martinengo on such a successful exercise. The Rear Admiral went onto say; “This excellent interaction leaves me and the Operation Commander in no doubt that with these results we will be able to prepare further exercises which will consolidate the excellent relationship that has been built up with our Chinese counterparts”.
Operation Atalanta is the European Union’s Operation to counter piracy and protect vulnerable shipping off the coast of Somalia. It has been operating for the last 10 years and has recently had the mandate extended to December 2020.