Following an escort mission in the Gulf of Aden and port visits in North Africa, the 27th Chinese naval escort task force arrived in Table Bay on Monday for a brief logistics stop.
The task force, consisting of guided-missile destroyer Haikou (Hull 171), guided-missile frigate Yueyang (Hull 575) and replenishment vessel Qinghaihu (Hull 885), set sail from Sanya, a port city in the island province of Hainan in south China on August 1 last year for the Gulf of Aden and waters off Somalia, taking over the merchant ship escort mission from the 26th Chinese naval escort taskforce on August 23.
Since arriving in the Gulf of Aden, the 27th escort task force successfully provided escort for 53 Chinese and international vessels in 35 batches and warned away 42 suspected pirate vessels during the four month mission.
Handing over the mission to the newly arrived 28th Chinese naval escort task force on December 26, the 27th escort task force transited via the Mediterranean Sea to pay visits to three friendly countries. This saw a four-day visit to Algeria (Port of Algiers) and five-day visits to Tunisia (Port of La Goulette) and Morocco (Casablanca).
The task force is due to depart Cape Town tomorrow (Wednesday February 21) to return to China via the Indian Ocean. As the stop at the southern tip of Africa is purely for logistic reasons, such as taking on additional fuel and food, no formal interaction will be held with the SA Navy apart from the traditional visit by the commanding officers of the naval task force to senior officers of South Africa’s maritime service.
Since China sent its first naval escort task force to the Gulf of Aden in 2008, the 27 escort task forces to date have provided escort for more than 6 400 Chinese and foreign merchant vessels in 1 109 batches.